Harbinger Corp., Atlanta, said it is testing an Internet-based electronic data interchange service for small businesses.

Electronic data interchange, or EDI, is the automated exchange of business documents such as purchase orders and invoices in standard computer formats. It is used by about 100,000 businesses to reduce the costs associated with paper.

EDI and financial EDI, which occurs when transactions flow through the banking system, are viewed as potentially lucrative cash management services.

David Leach, president and chief operating officer at Harbinger, said it will look to banks and corporations for "endorsements" of its service, called Harbinger Express, because it can help them extend the technology to millions of smaller businesses who cannot afford it.

Harbinger's network server, located on its Web site, will translate EDI-formatted transactions and present them to recipients in document form.

The service, which will use public/private key encryption, will "allow small companies to do EDI with large companies without ever buying or investing in a lot of high-end technology," he said.

Harbinger sells its software and private network services to many large banks and corporations. About $1.5 billion in EDI-related fund transfers flow through its value-added network each month.

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