The prediction is bold but intriguing: A new payment switch will be built that facilitates real-time, nonrepudiatable payments through the Internet, connects to every bank, and will ultimately replace the Automated Clearing House network and perhaps other regional and national processing networks.

One person making the prediction — who has also built a prototype of what he calls the XML switch — is William M. Randle, executive vice president of Huntington National Bank; chairman of the board of the Smart Card Alliance; chairman of the authorization committee of BITS, the technology arm of the Financial Services Roundtable. He has had this idea for a while, but the time has come for it, he said, and opinion does seem to be coalescing around it.

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