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Microsoft Making Corporate Payments Automatic

Microsoft expanded its financial software focus under the aegis of the business processes consortium RosettaNet by agreeing to participate in the RosettaNet Payment Milestone Program and issuing a supporting software toolkit geared to automate payments.

The Redmond, Wash. software giant issued the news at the SIBOS 2003 Conference in Singapore. With the program, Microsoft launched the RosettaNet payments toolkit, which will make it easier for financial institutions and their corporate customers to automate the payment process for supply chain transactions.

Payment automation is a huge bonus for companies doing business over the Web. Instead of a representative having to handle the particulars of a major transaction that will enable a business to fill orders, one of RosettaNet's tasks has been to eliminate the need for a middle man to guide enterprise resource planning (ERP) operations. Microsoft was the RosettaNet member who fit the bill.

For Microsoft, the payments toolkit is part of its BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT, which is a messaging services and software standard for securities and banking transactions that serves 7,500 financial institutions in 200 countries. BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT, which will be available after the first of the year, enables a rapid return on investment and low total cost of ownership, according to Microsoft.

Combined with BizTalk Accelerator for SWIFT, the payments toolkit will help Microsoft automate financial messaging to lower costs and decrease settlement cycle times.

With the Microsoft toolkit, corporations can automate the payment initiation and reconciliation of credit with remittance, using the SWIFT payment initiation and Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards. These standards can be rolled into treasury, ERP and accounting systems, which means banks will no longer have to manage multiple proprietary connections with their customers, cutting the cost per transaction.

Microsoft provided a compelling statistic to back its savings-via-automation claim. Josh Weisberg, senior product manager for E-Business Servers at Microsoft, said that industry estimates indicate that for every billion dollars in sales, the cost to corporations for settling these transactions is around $27 million.

Financial services are getting on board for savings, too. In a recent report on financial integration trends, TowerGroup has predicted that the financial services industry will spend 4 percent to 5 percent less on EAI technology in 2003 to 2004.

"The transition to automated processes that use standard messaging infrastructure and technologies for handling corporate payments will result in huge cost savings for both corporations and banks," Weisberg said in a press statement.

The Microsoft RosettaNet payments toolkit includes tools for manual entry and repair of messages and trade errors via Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, the new program in the Office that makes it easy to develop forms for connecting people to business processes.