The Financial Services Technology Consortium has published technical specifications for an Internet payment system modeled after paper-check procedures.

The publication of Financial Services Markup Language completed a three- year effort to refine the consortium's E-check concept.

The consortium, known as FSTC, introduced E-check in 1995 but has been struggling to roll it out commercially. The difficulty came despite several high-profile pilot tests, including the U.S. Treasury's efforts to disburse corporate payments to government vendors.

FSML, the markup language, is a step toward commercial development of interoperable, on-line banking products and services, said Frank Jaffe, a vice president of the consortium and applied technology consultant at BankBoston Corp.

"Because of the leadership that banks took in the design and development, E-check really represents an irresistible proposition for banks," he said.

FSTC got a patent for E-check in October 1997 and is developing licensing terms for FSML. Specifications can be reviewed on the World Wide Web at echeck.org.

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