Checkfree Corp. has agreed to license and sell Five Paces Inc.'s Virtual Financial Manager software, which lets financial institutions offer home banking services through the World Wide Web.

Checkfree, based in Columbus, Ohio, is best known as a bill payment processor. However, through acquisitions, the company has greatly increased its range of bank-related technology services and is striving to position itself as a full-service shop for electronic payments.

"Financial institutions want to get these delivery channels up and running at a rate faster than anyone expected," said Matthew S. Lewis, a spokesman for Checkfree.

"If you take our back-end in payment processing and Five Paces' Internet platform, you can definitely make some hay," he added.

Checkfree already offers Internet-based banking products as a result of the acquisitions of Interactive Solutions Corp. and Security APL.

The agreement with Atlanta-based Five Paces expands the range of computer systems on which Checkfree can provide services.

For Five Paces, the agreement is an entree to Checkfree's numerous bank customers. Under terms of the deal, Five Paces also can resell Checkfree's home banking software.

Checkfree has "grown dramatically, and we want to make sure that their customers can leverage our product," said Charles W. Ogilvie 3d, Five Paces' president.

Five Paces is a unit of Security First Network Bank, which bills itself as the "all Internet" bank. Virtual Financial Manager lies at the heart of Security First's offerings.

"We are trying to work with whomever the bank wants to partner," said Michael C. McChesney, chairman of Security First.

"Just as every bank is on an ATM network, we expect everyone to be on the Internet. We hope that many will be using our technology," he said.

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