information security market, is jumping into the electronic bill presentment fray.
The Naples, Fla., company this week unveiled its Prio mBill presentment software, which delivers bills via electronic mail. With this offering, Fischer International joins a slew of software companies and banks seeking to win the billing and related payments business of corporations and, by extension, the loyalty of consumer recipients.
Like other vendors of bill presentment software, executives at Fischer International are touting the usefulness of electronic bills for targeted marketing. They are also emphasizing the potential savings corporations can achieve from eliminating at least a portion of paper bills.
"Prio mBill will enable companies to save an estimated 30% to 50% in operating costs associated with paper billing and payment activities," said Dawn Cole, director of product marketing.
The company's reliance on e-mail sets it apart from competitors that prefer to present bills at World Wide Web sites. Firms such as Just In Time Solutions, edocs, BlueGill Technologies, and InvoiceLink provide billing corporations with software that enables them to format electronic bills for Web sites.
Fischer's software delivers e-mails to consumers with security properties such as nonrepudiation, which provides proof of a transaction's completion in cases of dispute. The company draws upon its expertise in cryptography, directory, and messaging technologies, said chief technology officer Steve Tillery. Fischer International would serve as a digital certificate authority for these connections.
"The big savings is in the delivery," Mr. Tillery said. "You don't have to manage a Web site to let consumers view their bills."
Avivah Litan, research director at GartnerGroup in Stamford, Conn., said, "They've got the right technology to pull the bills from inside a biller's system. And they've got the technology to deliver it to the consumer."
Fischer has a history of working in authentication and Internet security. Founder Addison M. Fischer is a longtime proponent of data encryption, digital certificate, and smart card technologies, and has been an early investor in companies such as Certco Inc., RSA Security Inc., and Xcert International Inc.
The company's experience with back-end systems integration should help it attract billers who want to keep their mainframes, said Alfred Peng, e-commerce analyst at International Data Corp.
But Mr. Peng said Fischer faces the challenge of muscling into an already crowded market.
One or two undisclosed customers are piloting Prio mBill, which will be generally available for Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris operating system in the first quarter, Mr. Tillery said. A version for International Business Machine Corp.'s System/390s is due in the third quarter, he added.
Mr. Tillery said he did not have information available on how the mBill system would execute electronic payments, and Fischer executives are still working out pricing.