NEW YORK - Forty million households will be viewing and paying their bills online by 2005, Jupiter Research says.

At its current rate of adoption, a report from the Jupiter Media Metrix unit says, electronic bill payment and presentment will grow more rapidly than online banking and shopping. By 2003, more people will view and pay bills online than pay them online after receiving them in the mail, the report says.

Banks can lead this market if they move fast to beat out pure-play intermediaries, the report says.

James Van Dyke, an analyst with Jupiter Research, said banks are "logical enablers" in Web billing "because of their trusted relationships with both consumers and businesses" but they "must stop watching this market and start driving it."

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