Electronic billing and payment has all the markings of a "killer app," in Internet parlance. But it's an Internet trend stuck in the mud. Just last year, the annual electronic payments conference sponsored by NACHA, The Electronic Payments Association, was overrun with vendors specializing in what has been known for years as electronic bill presentment and payment, or EBPP, but which some have now affixed with a new moniker: electronic invoice presentment and payment, or EIPP. Later this month, when the 2001 NACHA conference is held in Washington, only a few of those companies will be back.

While the no-shows aren't saying exactly why their companies chose not to return to the payments conference circuit, it's a safe bet that cash flow is a contributing factor. Some may well be struggling to survive in a market that hasn't quite materialized.

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