By signing agreements with two electronic billing companies, Spectrum LLC, the bank-owned electronic bill payment and presentment consortium, has moved to expand its influence in online billing.

The Union, N.J.-based consortium announced on Tuesday that Princeton eCom, which is used by more than 50 billers, and, which is used by 38, will distribute some of their bills to consumers served by Spectrum’s 22 member financial institutions.

Spectrum’s three founding banking companies — J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., First Union Corp., and Wells Fargo & Co. — have made available over the network only a minimal number of bills from within their own organizations.

The two agreements may signal a departure from Spectrum’s original goal of helping its member banks deliver bills electronically for their corporate customers, observers said.

James Van Dyke, a senior analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix, said he wonders whether Spectrum’s partnerships with technology companies are “possibly a departure from its earlier stated strategy of waiting for banks to sponsor each biller.

“It’s not clear if this is a wholesale departure from Spectrum’s earlier strategy, or if this is something designed to grease the skids of banks being able to sponsor billers already within an organization,” he said.

John Perry, Spectrum’s chairman and chief executive, said the agreements are “very consistent with our strategy” and no departure from it. “We get bills into the network through our strategic partnerships and alliances.”

Many of the billers that use Spectrum member banks already have chosen to work with companies like or Princeton eCom, Mr. Perry said. All of the billers that use Spectrum, even those who go through another technology company, must be sponsored by a member bank, so some of the billers that use and Princeton eCom won’t use the consortium, he said.

Ultimately billers would come to Spectrum through a “mix” of technology companies and banks, Mr. Perry said.

Princeton eCom of New Jersey and of El Dorado Hills, Calif., get access to the more than 4.7 million online consumers represented by Spectrum member banks.

“We felt Spectrum provided distribution capability,” said Chris Sugden, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Princeton eCom. “Spectrum understands the need to get content to the financial institutions. And frankly, they need to show some momentum in order to compete with CheckFree, to show there is another distribution channel out there.”

John Korvin, president of, said that many consumers have indicated that they want to pay their bills at a banking site in conjunction with online banking. “This gives us the opportunity to distribute bills through this consortium of banks to where consumers want to get them, which should drive adoption.”

Avi Greenfield, an analyst at Doculabs in Chicago, said Spectrum’s partnerships with technology companies signals it is taking “a more realistic view” of electronic billing. “They recognize these guys are out pounding the pavement and really are delivering the solutions to the corporate billers.”

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