Coopers & Lybrand's technology consulting unit has allied itself with Cybercash Inc. to promote electronic commerce services.

The agreement is the latest by a Big Six accounting firm to make electronic commerce systems and expertise available to clients.

Last December, Price Waterhouse announced an agreement with Edify Corp. to develop, market, and install next-generation Internet banking programs for banks.

Coopers & Lybrand, which announced its offering in conjunction with American Banker's Future Money conference in Atlanta, said it aims to help billers, such as utility, telephone, cable television, and financial services companies, construct interactive payment sites that accept credit cards, microtransactions, and electronic checks.

"It is an enhancement to the services on offer," said Paul Reed, consulting manager at Coopers & Lybrand in San Francisco. "Bill presentment on the Web page is a killer application."

As an option, it will offer Cybercash's PayNow Electronic Check Service, which lets billers accept customer payments at the Web site.

"The key is empowering the biller to use statement data and Internet payments to drive traffic to their Web site," said Richard Crone, vice president and general manager of Reston, Va.-based Cybercash.

Cybercash already has three companies, NUI Corp., Kansas City Power and Light, and Brooklyn Union Gas, live with PayNow. Several others are in pilot stages.

"This signifies to the marketplace that a firm as respected as Coopers is reacting to a need of billers," Mr. Crone said.

"We want to help billers develop an electronic commerce strategy, offer Internet bill presentment and payment, evaluate alternatives such as Cybercash, and work with them to manage the projects and integrate business-to-business and business-to-consumer transaction solutions," said Paul Ingemanson, business development manager in Coopers & Lybrand's Solutions Thru Technology unit.

The electronic service is expected to halve the cost of processing bill payments. Mr. Crone said the total bundled cost of sending, receiving payment, and processing a paper bill is 75 cents to $1.50. An electronic check would reduce that to between 50 cents and $1.

"This alliance enables Cybercash to serve the biller and the bank," Mr. Crone said. "The biller's infrastructure change needs to be completed by reengineering experts such as Coopers & Lybrand."

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