International Billing Services announced an alliance with NetDelivery Corp. that will let companies bill customers on-line without going through banks or other data consolidators.
Using the "push" technology capabilities of the Internet, the NetDelivery system will present bills automatically to desktop personal computers.
NetDelivery's approach is similar to Pointcast Inc.'s method for sending news stories; information is downloaded to the consumer's computer automatically..
International Billing, a division of USCS International Inc. in Rancho Cordova, Calif., had previously entered into alliances with three major electronic billing consolidators: Checkfree Corp., Intuit Inc., and MSFDC, the joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and First Data Corp.
The NetDelivery agreement "builds upon our stated goal of working with all major, important players in the electronic billing marketplace," said Randy Lintecum, International Billing's president.
"NetDelivery does not have a marquee name," said Thomas H. Roberts, International Billing's vice president of marketing. "But the technology they have developed and are applying to electronic banking has a lot of promise to carve out a chunk of Internet bill delivery."
NetDelivery's Electronic Delivery Management system relies upon a patented technique that the Boulder, Colo.-based company calls "invited push."
Other push approaches emulate broadcasting, using one transmitting computer to send data to many receiving personal computers. NetDelivery's software lets consumers sign up for electronic delivery of bills from any company and have the bills consolidated on the user's PC.
Customers would authorize payment amounts and dates after reviewing the bills. Options on the system can include check account access, credit cards, and eventually micropayments and similar digital cash mechanisms. Transaction information would flow back to the biller for processing.
"We enable a provider to customize the content and the interface with customers," said Steven R. Baumhardt, vice president of marketing for NetDelivery. The three-year-old company recently changed its focus from delivering information content to delivering bills, which Mr. Baumhardt regards as "a killer application for the Internet."
Although the system is likely to appeal primarily to billers, NetDelivery is in negotiations to incorporate its technology into the electronic banking strategies of several financial institutions, which company officials declined to identify.
For International Billing, a service bureau that processes 70 million paper bills a month for utilities, cable, and telecommunications companies, the arrangement with NetDelivery provides billers with a direct delivery option for bills they want presented electronically.
The other paperless options are posting bills to the biller's Web site or to a consolidator's Web site.