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First Commerce Technologies Signs With CheckFree

First Commerce Technologies Inc. (FCT) and CheckFree signed an agreement whereby CheckFree will provide ACH (Automated Check Handling) processing and bill payment services for FCT.

FCT provides transaction processing services for more than 250 community banks located in the Midwest, Southeast and South Central United States. FCT will integrate CheckFree's latest technological advances in ACH processing and bill payment. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the seven-year agreement, CheckFree will support the back-office systems and technical components for the 12 million ACH transactions conducted by FCT each year. FCT will continue to manage all relationships with its clients, and provide them information on their technical needs.

Among the customer benefits of the business alliance are: a fully year-2000 compliant ACH system, automated file confirmation and acknowledgments, improved risk monitoring, and enhanced EDI services, the companies said. FCT's future plans for ACH services include enhanced information delivery and online service for customers.

For electronic bill payment, a five-year processing agreement with CheckFree will enable FCT banks to continue offering state-of-the-art telephone bill payment capabilities integrated into their online banking services.

Sean Feeney, president of CheckFree Software, said: "CheckFree is in the payment processing business and ACH is one of our core competencies, so we will offer FCT distinct competitive and financial advantages. This strategic alliance will enable FCT to expand its ACH processing capacity without investing in expensive hardware upgrades. Processing capacity for FCT customers will now be virtually unlimited."

Founded in 1981, CheckFree is a provider of electronic commerce services, software and related products for more than 2.4 million consumers, 1,000 businesses and 850 financial institutions.