Checkfree Corp. has entered into an alliance with International Billing Services Inc. to promote electronic bill presentments.
International Billing, a unit of Rancho Cordova, Calif.-based USCS International, is a major provider of statement processing services for utilities, telecommunications firms, financial companies, and other businesses.
Under the alliance agree-ment-its financial terms were not disclosed- Checkfree will help provide Internet-based billing services to International Billing clients.
Those clients serve 58% of U.S. cable television subscribers, 39% of cellular telephone users, and 11% of standard telephone customers.
"IBS has always been on the cutting edge of service in the billing industry," said Pete Kight, president and chief executive officer of Checkfree. "Becoming the first major statement processing services provider to offer electronic bill presentation is another example of its leadership."
The delivery of bills directly to consumers' computer screens is considered an important element in on-line payment services.
Through the Checkfree alliance, International Billing clients can send customers full-color bills created in HTML, the hypertext markup language that is standard on the Internet.
A consumer can get access to bills through a bank's or Checkfree's Web site and then can pay the bills with a few mouse clicks and key strokes.
International Billing was involved in electronic bill presentment before the Checkfree announcement.
The company is represented on the advisory board of MSFDC, the recently formed joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and First Data Corp.
"We would like to participate with MSFDC as well as with Checkfree in a meaningful way," said Tom Roberts, vice president of International Billing.
Despite his company's clout in the world of billing, Mr. Roberts said International Billing needs partners. "We believe Checkfree and MSFDC are absolutely essential in making all of this work," he said.
Checkfree's bill presentment service, called E-bill, has been available since March and has about 10,000 users. They can both receive and pay their bills electronically through Checkfree's Web site.
The latest alliance could substantially boost these numbers. International Billing sends out 67 million bills a month.
"No one wants to just look at a bill" on-line, said Checkfree spokesman Matthew S. Lewis. "The ability to execute the payment is what makes bill presentment worthwhile."