management business to offer Internet bill presentment and payment services.
Corporate clients of the bank can offer their retail customers the option of paying their bills electronically. People who enroll will be issued an Instabuy Agile Wallet from Cybercash Inc., which they can use to store the information necessary to pay the billing company and others.
The Internet bill payment and presentment division will "extend First National's print, mail, and remittance-processing services to include Internet-originated payments," according to the bank.
A subsidiary of First National of Nebraska Inc., First National Bank of Omaha is a large merchant processor for bank cards, as well as a major remittance processor and automated clearing house payment originator.
"We see the future of payment processing as over the Internet, and we wanted to align ourselves with companies that have already provided the groundwork," said Russ Oatman, senior vice president at the Nebraska bank.
The need for an Internet payment vehicle was deemed "so important that we wanted to set up a separate department," Mr. Oatman said.
The department, with four people so far, is managed by Eric Williams, who said the digital wallet provides "one-click enrollment capabilities" that "open our customers to a greater pool of consumers."
Mr. Oatman said more consumers are seeking electronic payment options. "Our large billers are getting inquiries from their customers asking, 'What is your solution?' "
The bank has licensed BillDirect Internet billing software from edocs, an electronic bill presentment and payment company in Natick, Mass. The bank plans to use BillDirect to let billers deploy and manage their own billing systems with customized statements and invoices.
Cybercash of Reston, Va., has licensed its electronic wallet to several financial institutions -- including the credit card leader MBNA Corp. -- but First National Bank of Omaha is the first of them to organize a separate payments unit around the wallet.
"This is all about extending cash management services to the paper bill," said Richard K. Crone, vice president and general manager at Cybercash. "In essence, we're creating a new digital debit card."
Mr. Crone said electronic wallets "help facilitate enrollment of customers and retention of payment data."