Checkfree Corp. claims to have an advantage in the emerging bill presentment market because it can "pay anyone." Transpoint says that doesn't matter.

Being able to pay anyone requires cutting checks to payees who are not on-line. Even after more than 10 years in the electronic bill payment business, Checkfree still executes about half of its payments with paper.

"One of Checkfree's core strengths is the experience it has in writing paper checks for customers," said Christopher E. Musto, senior analyst at Gomez Advisors, Concord, Mass.

To match Checkfree's pay-anyone utility, the original owners of the Transpoint bill presentment venture, Microsoft Corp. and First Data Corp., brought in Citigroup as an equity investor in September. The industry took the move to mean they wanted to rely on Citigroup's pay-anyone services.

But Matt Cone, Transpoint's vice president of business development, said Citigroup's involvement "has nothing to do with presentment. We don't need to be successful in pay-anyone to be successful in presentment."

In their decision-making, bankers should view Transpoint's pay-anyone and presentment services as two independent issues, Mr. Cone said.

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