Technology in Brief: Deals and deployments by financial institutions, and other news

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Solidus Starts Unit for Health-Care Field

Solidus Networks Inc., whose fingerprint payment systems is used mainly in grocery chains, has created a division to adapt its technology for the health-care industry.

That industry "is crying out for innovation," said John Rogers, Solidus' founder, chairman, and chief executive, in a press release issued Monday.

The San Francisco company announced it had hired Steven Yecies as the new division's senior vice president and general manager.

Mr. Yecies has worked at health-care and consulting companies including Radiology Management Sciences and Electronic Medical Management. He was the founder and the general manager of the global health and wellness business for the defunct Internet consulting company Scient.

Users of Solidus' Pay By Touch payment system can enroll with a merchant by providing their fingerprint and payment information, such as a bank account or credit card number. They can then authorize charges to those accounts using their fingerprints.

Mr. Rogers said the system can also be used to access to medical information, health savings accounts, and flexible spending accounts.

Solidus has announced or closed several deals this month. Last week, it acquired a pair of loyalty technology companies, 7th Street Software Inc. of Berkeley, Calif., and Convena LLC of San Francisco, and it purchased Capture Resource Inc. of Bristol, Pa., another loyalty company, earlier this month. Also this month Solidus bought CardSystems Solutions Inc., a merchant payment processor, and announced that it had agreed to buy a biometric payment rival, BioPay LLC.

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Same-Day-Payment Projection in U.K.

U.K. banks, which have been urged to speed up the country's electronic money transfer system, will make same-day payments available around the clock by the end of 2007, the Association for Payment Clearing Services said Friday.

The new system will let customers use the telephone or Internet to make payments that will reach a recipient's bank account within hours instead of three working days.

HSBC Holdings PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, and Barclays PLC were among the U.K. banks that agreed with Britain's Office of Fair Trading in May to shorten the time needed to make payments between banks. The office's Payments Systems Task Force said faster clearing would benefit the British economy.

John Fingleton, the fair-trading office's chief executive, said in a press release issued Friday: "The banking industry has met all the criteria set for it. I am particularly pleased that the near-real-time service, available 24/7, to be introduced by the end of 2007, goes even further than the task force recommended.''

The clearing services association said that Internet, telephone, and standing order money transfers account for 7% of automated payment volume; the remaining 93% is made up of so-called bulk transactions of direct debits and credits. For the bulk transactions, banks exchange funds on the same day and customers are debited and credited at the same time.

Banks also agreed to stop accruing float, or the interest on standing orders after the money has left a customer's account but has not yet reached the recipient.

HSBC said that in a typical year the float on 67 million electronic payments made by about 10.5 million customers is about $10.6 million. The company has started paying that interest to customers instead of keeping it.

Dyfrig John, the deputy chief executive of HSBC's U.K. division, said in an e-mailed statement: "Virtually instant electronic clearing is achievable and should be the ultimate aim for the industry here in the U.K. Giving our customers the benefit of the float is an important and necessary step towards next-day clearing.''

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