A multimillion-dollar electronic billing service will be trialled next year for three months by New Zealand Post in association with the Bank of New Zealand and US cheque-clearing company CheckFree Corporation.
NZ Post has a commercial eye to the future of the product, which it expects to eventually shrink-wrap and take internationally.
Business development manager Douglas Maclean says CheckFree is the only existing third-party provider of electronic billing and payment services that met Post's criteria after a wordwide search. "They lead in terms of technology and the market."
The new service will allow banks and billers to offer electronic bill delivery and payment services to their customers without the need to develop their own system and infrastructure. Customers will be able to access all of their bills via the Internet and decide when and how much to pay for each bill.
Maclean says the project has developed adaptations of CheckFree's existing infrastructure and packaged it specifically for New Zealand, though with a view that it will be useful internationally. The product has an Australasian component.
"We're creating something that is far more than a technology infrastructure," he says. "A lot of the procedural security and integrity of the Internet process is by far the most critical part of the project. That's taken an incredible amount of work."
NZ Post has US government approval to use 128-bit encryption.
It expects to announce next month the organisations that will take part in the pilot, which will begin in March. They're likely to be, in the main, financial companies and utilities — organisations with major customer databases. Maclean says the cost of the project is commercially-sensitive information but that it is a multimillion-dollar investment.