The Financial Services Technology Consortium is planning a pilot to demonstrate how corporations can use the Internet to get access to existing payment systems.
The consortium, FSTC, is a group of banks, system providers, and research laboratories exploring technology developments that may affect banking.
It formed a project team called Bank Internet Payment System, or Bips, to spearhead development of specifications for how corporate services could be developed by banks in cyberspace.
The Internet would be the access route to components of the payment infrastructure such as Fed Wire, the automated clearing house network, and the Swift messaging network.
"We want to provide an elegant interface," said Debbie O'Dell, project manager for Bips, who formerly worked for Lockheed Martin Energy Systems.
"We have wonderful existing payment systems," she added. "If we could just provide a more effective or transparent link to those systems, wouldn't that be wonderful?"
FSTC, organized by Citicorp in 1993, has begun several Internet-related banking initiatives including an electronic check design and electronic return-item notifications for paper checks.
FSTC is closely allied with the Bankers Roundtable's Banking Industry Technology Secretariat, or Bits, which is charting industry strategies for payment system development.
Bips participants include Glenview (Ill.) State Bank, Mellon Bank Corp., Concept Five Technologies Inc., Fujitsu Research Institute, GlobeSet Inc., NCR Corp., and Tandem Computers Inc.
The project's advisers include CommerceNet Inc., the Federal Reserve banks of Boston and St. Louis, and Swift, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication.
The pilot is slated for the third quarter and is to involve Mellon, Glenview, Cummins-Allison Corp., Pennsylvania Power and Light, and several undisclosed corporations.
Bips participants will set provisions for enabling trading partners to agree on payment terms cost-effectively, as well as authentication and authorization specifications.
David Merritt, product design manager at Mellon, said the pilot's participants would initially set up debit authorization accounts. Using the automated clearing house network, paying companies would access invoices and initiate payments at Web sites developed by Mellon.
The bank would convert payment requests into ACH form to debit the corporation's bank account.
Officials said the pilot would initially focus on ACH and Fed Wire payments. It would eventually be expanded to include other payment types, such as checks and credit cards.
Catherine A. Allen, chief executive officer at Washington-based Bits, said the FSTC effort's underlying goal is to develop new ways to bolster bank relationships with customers.