There are reasons that most banks do not run their own electronic billing operations - they are complicated, messy, and hard to make a buck on - but Edward G. McLaughlin, chief executive officer of Paytrust Inc., will hear none of them.

He started Paytrust last year as the electronic equivalent of a centralized mailbox, taking on the burden of paying and presenting bills. Now, as he steps up his pursuit of financial institutions as partners in acquiring customers, he may be facing his biggest challenge yet: persuading banks that tracking hundreds of thousands of bills and their payments is not as unwieldy as it seems.

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