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PayTrust Builds Biz With Brokerages

A year and a half after switching its main focus to business customers, online billing provider PayTrust is hanging tough in a tough environment for online billing management services. And the strategy switch is paying off.

The New Jersey-based PayTrust has just signed a deal with securities clearing firm U.S. Clearing in which it would private label online billing and account management services to U.S. Clearing's over 400 bank and brokerage client firms.

The companies said they would offer PayTrust's "MyBillCenter" to Valet Asset Management Account holders that U.S. Clearing services through its correspondent broker-dealer firms.

Terms of the deal weren't released, but generally, it is structured as a standard software licensing arrangement that also includes a cut of transaction deals that U.S. Clearing would strike with its broker-dealer clients.

The launch of billing center follows similar arrangements that the three-year-old PayTrust has with major financial services companies, including American Express, Citibank, and with brokerages such as Ameritrade and eTrade.

Although the service is also available to consumers directly at http://mybillcenter.paytrust.com, PayTrust is clearly looking at better possibilities by enabling the financial service providers with the bill viewing and payment technology.

Waiting for the masses of consumers to give online bill viewing and payment a try has been like waiting for Godot for many online billing providers. But PayTrust has managed to find other revenues by selling into a sector ready already comfy with online transactions: brokerage customers.

In addition, when convincing consumers to have their bills forwarded to a provider who will then render the bills electronically, there's little question that banks and brokerages are in better position to leverage that trust. U.S. Clearing is a division of Fleet Securities, Inc., part of FleetBoston Financial .

PayTrust's current backers include American Express, Capital One, ComVentures, Citibank, FT Ventures and Spectrum Equity.



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