The Financial Services Technology Consortium said it is working to simplify the way banks and corporations interact electronically.
It recently demonstrated an Internet-based payment standard for wholesale electronic funds transfers.
The standard would assure highly secure transactions between corporations and banks, and would make multiple banking systems unnecessary.
Corporations would be spared from "logging into separate applications to communicate with different banks," said Debbie O'Dell, project manager at FSTC.
FSTC's Bank Internet Payment System project team, or Bips, was formed early this year. Its demonstration involved Glenview (Ill.) State Bank and its parent company, Cummins-Allison Corp., a Mount Prospect, Ill., manufacturer of bank and business hardware products such as coin counters.
Cummins-Allison asked Glenview, a $600 million-asset bank, to pay dividends to its investors using FSTC's Internet standard.
A single request contained a large list of all the necessary payments to be made. The bank converted that information into multiple ACH funds transfers and deposited them into the appropriate bank accounts.
Ron Gafron, chief technology officer at Glenview, said the protocol showed how smaller banks can develop sophisticated payment services.
"This is something that any bank of any size can put into place," he said. "It's all built with off-the-shelf products and is pretty easy to install."
Nolan North, vice president and assistant treasurer at T. Rowe Price, said that as a corporate customer of banking services, he welcomed FSTC's initiatives to promote electronic commerce.
But Mr. North, who is a member of Treasury Management Association's payments advisory group, said there were many such initiatives under way.
FSTC's model is just one of many, he said, but, "I think they have been focusing on the things they need to rather than reinventing the wheel."
FSTC, which plans additional pilots with Mellon Bank Corp. and Pennsylvania Power and Light, will enhance its Internet standard to support electronic data interchange and will link the standard to other bank payment systems such as Fed Wire, the Federal Reserve's funds transfer system.
Corporations eventually would specify the most cost-effective payment terms for a bank to follow. For instance, a company could direct certain payments be made via Fed Wire, while other payments would be converted into checks or ACH payments.
FSTC's participants in the Bips project include Citicorp, which formed the consortium in 1993, Concept Five Technologies Inc., Fujitsu Research Institute, NCR Corp., and Tandem Computers Inc.
Project advisers include CommerceNet, the Federal Reserve, the National Automated Clearing House Association, and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.
In another initiative, FSTC, which works closely with the Banking Industry Technology Secretariat of the Bankers Roundtable, just received a patent for its Internet-based electronic check system.
That system, modeled after the paper-based check collection, lets consumers and businesses generate electronic checks.