Princeton Telecom Corp., an electronic bill payment and presentment processor, hopes to raise $46 million through an initial public offering.

The New Jersey-based company would use the proceeds for working capital and to build a presence in the emerging Internet-based bill presentment market, according to a prospectus filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

With an estimated 15 billion paper bills being mailed to 100 million households, the Internet represents an opportunity to simplify and lower billing costs. The average cost for a biller to create and deliver a bill is $1, according to GartnerGroup, Stamford, Conn.

Princeton Telecom, formed in 1983, publishes and presents bills to consumers through the sites of billers, financial institutions, and Internet portals. Its 1998 revenues were $3.8 million, up 20% from a year earlier. The net loss increased to $3.4 million, from $2.14 million in 1997.

Avivah Litan, an analyst at GartnerGroup, said Princeton Telecom's approach to bill presentment and payment is strictly from a biller's point of view. But the company is trying to position itself in a nonthreatening way to other parties in the market, notably Checkfree Corp., Transpoint, and the banking industry, Ms. Litan said.

Princeton Telecom also collects home banking and telephone-based bill payments at its electronic lockbox. Payments and related billing information are sent to billers for reconciling with accounts receivable systems.

"The electronic lockbox capability is a good solution for billers," she said. "They say to billers, 'Give us your data, and we will sit in between you and the consolidators.'"

About 250 corporate and financial institution customers use Princeton Telecom's services.

The company will trade on Nasdaq under the ticker "ECOM." The IPO will be managed by BancBoston Robertson Stephens and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

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