Four software and consulting companies are teaming up to help corporations send electronic bills to customers via the Internet.
Logica PLC of Britain said it is working with Adesso Software Inc., Group 1 Software, and edocs Inc. to help businesses format Internet statements, send them electronically to consumers, and integrate them with paper billing systems and related data bases.
The alliance, announced this week, joins a crowded field in which banks, billing consolidators, and other software companies are trying to define and capitalize on an emerging business opportunity.
Major financial institutions like Bank of America Corp. and First Union Corp. are offering corporate clients help in getting electronic bills on the Internet.
Checkfree Holdings Corp. of Norcross, Ga.-a third-party consolidator and payments processor-is trying to strengthen its prominent position by signing up more major billers for its E-Bill service and negotiating to present a variety of companies' bills at popular Web portals.
Despite uncertainty about how quickly consumers will adopt electronic bill presentment, most billers are at least contemplating putting statements on the Internet, said Karl Duffy, vice president of Killen & Associates in Palo Alto, Calif. The analyst said he expects billers worldwide to be able to present 70% of all bills electronically by 2005.
Officials at Logica stressed the integrated nature of their approach.
Michael Renuart, principal consultant at Logica's U.S. headquarters in Lexington, Mass., said its work with U.S. telecommunications companies showed that some billers have had difficulty developing electronic bills and integrating them with paper-based systems and customer service.
He said the company developed a "best of breed" solution to those concerns and is working with three undisclosed clients to install it.
Software from Group 1 of Lanham, Md., is used to create bill images and targeted advertising. These data are used to print paper bills and are also sent to archive software from Adesso of Reading, Mass.
BillDirect software from edocs Inc. of Wayland, Mass., would be used to create Internet formats for the bills and send e-mail notifications. Logica offers to help billers integrate these components with their legacy systems.
"Edocs has a turnkey solution that is appealing to a lot of billers," said Mr. Duffy of Killen & Associates. "The systems integration help from Logica makes it a more comprehensive offering."
Though the offering is based on billers' interacting directly with consumers, Mr. Renuart said the system will be compatible with industry specifications such as Open Financial Exchange to let bill summaries be sent to Web sites that collect bills for consumers.
The price tag for an average wireless telephone company would probably range from $1.2 million to $1.5 million, Mr. Renuart said.
Edocs also announced that it plans to offer by September a version of its software for Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris operating environment.
Also this week, Deutsche Telekom said its customers are now able to view phone bills on-line using a system the company developed with Amdocs Ltd. of St. Louis. The German phone company, the largest in Europe, is offering the service to its 40 million residential and small-business customers in Germany.
The service lets customers see their information faster and manipulate it as they wish, said Dieter Lange, vice president of billing and accounting at Deutsche Telekom. "This is an important step in the realization of our vision for next-generation billing services," he said.
NIIT Inc. of Atlanta, meanwhile, unveiled a bill presentment and payment offering called EasyPay Server. The system lets electronic bills be sent directly to consumers or-through a partnership with Checkfree-to Web sites that aggregate statements from billers.