Trisense Software Ltd. has joined the growing list of companies offering electronic bill payment and presentment software.
Funded by David R. Lamm, its founder, president, and chief executive officer, Minneapolis-based Trisense is aiming its system at both banks and billers.
The electronic billing phenomenon is barely off the ground, but the entry of such entrepreneurs along with more established vendors like Microsoft Corp. and Checkfree Corp. suggests broad agreement on the business case.
Trisense's system, Paysense, "allows a bank to provide both the billers and consumers with a complete solution via a guaranteed e-mail," Mr. Lamm said.
He said Trisense takes a bank-friendly approach that will contrast with that of Checkfree, Intuit Inc., and MSFDC, the joint venture of Microsoft and First Data Corp. Each of them, of course, has been working diligently to prove it is more bank-friendly than the next, with some apparent success.
"There is a lot of confusion about what choices banks should make," Mr. Lamm said. Trisense wants to enable them to "own the service" rather than act as an "agent of someone else's service."
Mr. Lamm has a track record in banking technology. He co-founded Document Solutions Inc. in 1991 with the late Robert M. Tripp. The company developed a check imaging system that is used by more than 300 community banks.
Document Solutions was sold to Bisys Group, the data processing company, in 1995 for $38 million. Mr. Lamm formed Trisense the following year, bringing along 12 key people from his Document Solutions days.
Bill Burnham, analyst at Piper Jaffray Inc., Minneapolis, said the number of electronic billing technology vendors is growing, but he said this emerging market can accommodate them.
"Most banks and billers have yet to make a decision one way or another," he said. "I suspect that at the end of the day, banks will buy more than one solution."
With Paysense, billers would buy the service from a bank and send it electronic files that contain their customers' invoices. Banks would package the documentation with that of other billers and transmit it to payers via electronic mail.
The e-mail, which would contain text and graphical billing information, would be downloaded into a personal computer hard drive using Trisense's client software, which is installed during the sign-up phase.
Consumers could view their bills, then initiate automatic debits via the automated clearing house, or they could skip the software-download process and pay through a home banking system after viewing a bill on a bank Web site.
Mr. Burnham, who recently met with Trisense's management, said he was impressed with the way the company has solved many security problems inherent in e-mail protocols.
He said all personal information would be stored on the customer's PC so that the data sent over public networks would be useless to a hacker.
"The solution for working out the security concerns is very innovative," Mr. Burnham said. "I do not think anyone has that."
Paysense will be marketed to the largest 100 banks. It will be commercially available in the second quarter. Trisense is negotiating with 12 large banking companies, Mr. Lamm said. No bank has yet bought the system.