Despite more and more companies clamoring for electronic payment services, some still repond with, "Checks, please."

For customers that still need those paper payments, Wachovia Corp. has introduced a new cash management product that combines many of the bank's electronic functions with a check printing and mailing service.

The combined new offering, called Integrated Payables, is designed to streamline the accounts payable function within corporations, according to the company.

"It's an alternative for companies who might want to outsource the function or want to centralize payables and need a point of transition," said Beverly B. Wells, head of the Winston-Salem, N.C., bank's Treasury Services Group.

Uses Electronic File

Possible payees for the new service: vendor payments. employee expense reimbursements, and health care claims payments.

"It will be a long time before we see a situation where there is not a percentage of activity created by checks," said Ms. Brown.

When using Integrated Payables, a company will provide Wachovia with an electronic file of the payments it wants to make. This file can be presented in a variety of formats, although Ms. Brown noted that most users are moving to the format endorsed by the National Automated Clearing House Association and the American National Standards Institute for electronic payments.

The bank will then either print and mail checks or make the payment via a wire transfer or clearing house transaction.

Wachovia then provides full remittance information, which is available in a variety of electronic formats, and performs reconciliation for items drawn on Wachovia accounts.

Fighting Fraud

The service, which was introduced just prior to the Treasury Management Association's annual conference, also incorporates a feature that Wachovia calls Positive Pay. Ms. Wells said that feature can help reduce fraud. "We'll send the customer a daily issue transmission. which shows what items were paid that day," she said.

Ms. Wells declined to disclose pricing for the Integrated Payables service, other than to say it would be priced on a unit basis. The unit cost will include the payment and all disbursement and reconciliation information associated with each transaction. Ms. Wells added that the unit cost will drop as customers reach certain volume thresholds.

Wachovia had been testing Integrated Payables in its internal accounts payable areas for several months prior to its introduction.

Ms. Wells said the bank has signed on three clients for the service, all of which are companies located in the Southeast portion of the country.

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