In a free economy, demand generates its own supply. But sometimes the reverse happens: Supply creates its own demand. Such is apparently the case in the field of electronic bill payments.

After years of investing, and often losing, a lot of money in schemes designed to persuade a somewhat indifferent public to discard checks, suppliers of electronic alternatives are finally making progress. Responding to a crescendo of Internet hype, consumers seem poised to embrace bits. There are currently some three million subscribers to assorted electronic payment plans. More important, subscriptions are growing at an eye-popping 10% a month.

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