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   Technology StocksCheckFree Holdings Corp. (CKFR), the next Dell, Intel?


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To: StocksMan who wrote (20275)10/26/2004 12:05:31 PM
From: StocksMan
   of 20297
 
Raymond James Financial to Migrate 100,000 Accounts to CheckFree APL

Tuesday October 26, 9:14 am ET

-- Financial Firm to Deploy CheckFree APL in its Broker-Dealer and Money Management Businesses; Brings New Top 10 Client to CheckFree Investment Services --

ATLANTA and JERSEY CITY, N.J., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CheckFree Investment Services, a division of CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR - News), today announced that the Asset Management Services division of Raymond James Financial has licensed CheckFree APL for use within the firm's broker/dealer and money management businesses. A conversion process, to begin this month, will result in approximately 100,000 portfolios migrating from the client's in-house system to CheckFree's industry leading, separately managed accounts platform. The deal, as measured by the number of accounts to be administered on CheckFree APL, represents a substantial client for CheckFree Investment Services. CheckFree Investment Services is the leading provider of outsourced trading, portfolio management, accounting, reporting services and data to broker/dealers, investment consultants and money managers in separately managed accounts.

"Raymond James, which is known for its emphasis on personalized service to investors, selected CheckFree APL to accelerate its growth plans," said Alex Marasco, CheckFree Investment Services executive vice president and general manager. "We're told they were impressed with our continual investment and direction we're taking with the underlying technology platform, and in workflows that keep CheckFree APL ahead of the curve in the separately managed accounts arena."

The Asset Management Services division of Raymond James Financial provides an operational, sales and marketing framework for much of the firm's separately managed account fee-based programs including outside consultant wrap, mutual fund wrap, financial advisor discretionary and other fee-based brokerage businesses. Through Asset Management Services, CheckFree APL will support Raymond James Consulting Services program which introduces model portfolios based upon risk budgeting concepts utilized by institutional clients and consultants. The program goes beyond manager search and selection to develop an integrated portfolio of managed holdings, and incorporates the best tools to assist high net worth and smaller institutional clients in managing risk and selecting managers with identifiable skills. Raymond James has long leveraged CheckFree's M-Search database, the leading investment manager database and analytical software tool, and will continue using it to perform due diligence on money manager relationships.

"From a connectivity standpoint, CheckFree APL is the system most managers are comfortable with," said Jeff Holland, vice president of Raymond James Consulting Services. "The interfaces will also help our managers consolidate the number of external connections they need to make to outside sponsor programs already on CheckFree APL."

CheckFree APL will also be utilized by the firm's wholly-owned asset management subsidiaries: Eagle Asset Management and Awad Asset Management. For nearly twenty-five years, Eagle Asset Management has offered an array of high quality, disciplined investment programs designed for the particular needs of individual and institutional investors. Eagle's goal is to provide clients with superior risk-adjusted returns as the cornerstone of a successful long-term investment program. Awad Asset Management specializes in small-cap investment management for individuals, retirement plans, trusts, foundations, estates, corporations and mutual funds. Both managers look to benefit from the CheckFree APL interfaces to Raymond James and outside sponsor programs. Awad and Eagle will also utilize CheckFree APL's trading, portfolio management and performance measurement/reporting capabilities.

Looking ahead, the firm plans to utilize CheckFree APL's multiple strategy portfolio (MSP) functionality as the Raymond James Consulting Services arm creates multiple-style accounts within its separate accounts product area. "CheckFree APL offers robust trading tools to efficiently trade multiple strategy portfolios across various sleeves," said Holland.

Multiple Strategy Portfolios provide for the diversified management of a single account, encompassing the investment strategies of multiple money managers. CheckFree APL enables the program sponsor firm to offer a wide variety of investment strategies to their client, while seamlessly including any combination of in-house and external managers. CheckFree APL treats Multiple Strategy Portfolios as a single account with sub-models, thereby averting trading and reconciliation discrepancies.

CheckFree APL serves as the leading separately managed accounts platform, providing remote processing services to sponsor firms, money managers and financial advisors for the automation of investment management, trading, portfolio performance and investor reporting. CheckFree APL's open platform enables approximately 80 of the top Wall Street (sponsor) firms and 125 managers to interface with each other, and operate in a straight-through processing environment. Institutional money managers also use CheckFree APL to enter and maintain account data, manage trades and measure portfolio performance. . .

biz.yahoo.com

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To: StocksMan who wrote (20276)10/29/2004 9:30:50 AM
From: StocksMan
   of 20297
 
PayPal is sorry, but sorry isn’t good enough

PayPal offers some sellers a fee-free day, but many of the online payment service’s disgruntled users are not consoled.

October 28, 2004

PayPal dubbed Thursday “Thank You Day,” but the company’s irked customers called it “Thanks for nothing.”

To make up for millions of dollars that merchants couldn’t get to during the company’s five-day outage earlier this month, PayPal, purchased by eBay in 2002, announced that U.S.-based clients would not pay transaction fees as they funneled money through the largest online payment service in the world.

Many of the small retailers, non-profits, and eBay merchants - a total of 56.7 million users worldwide - said they lost access to unquantifiable sums of money and couldn’t do business during PayPal’s technical glitch.

“Recently, the PayPal site had technology issues that may have hindered your ability to conduct business using PayPal,” an announcement on PayPal’s site stated. “To apologize and to show appreciation to our PayPal customers for your continued business, PayPal is going to credit PayPal customers for PayPal transaction fees incurred on October 28, 2004, between 12:00:00 a.m. PDT and 11:59:59 p.m. PDT.”

The gesture was not well-received in many parts of the PayPal universe.

“This is an insult to the PayPal users’ intelligence,” said Tim Hendricks, an eBay seller based in Torrance, California. “To make up for Paypal’s issues, us users must make a payment or accept a payment with the time frame allowed to receive any compensation for Paypal’s huge mistakes. Let’s get real about this issue. How about refunding every sellers’ listing fees…for the almost two weeks the PayPal system would not work properly?”

About 630,000 transactions push $50 million through PayPal’s system every day, and PayPal gets to keep 2 to 3 percent of that amount plus an additional fee per transaction. Approximately 30 percent of PayPal’s business comes from international sellers and buyers who were not eligible to participate in “Thank You Day.”

American PayPal clients said their foreign counterparts weren’t missing much and that the timing of “Thank You Day” seemed geared to benefit PayPal, not the clients.

“Don't think some brainiac didn’t sit around analyzing the best day of the week to offer this to have the least impact on the bottom-line,” said Jeff Smith, another eBay seller.

PayPal officials declined to answer questions about the timing or the strategy behind “Thank You Day,” but said client complaints are to be expected during technical problems.

“We understand that people are obviously upset by this,” said PayPal spokeswoman Sara Bettencourt. “We know these site issues were a big inconvenience to our customers. That’s why we’re doing this, to thank our customers for their patience and to apologize to them.”

PayPal doesn’t have to worry about losing disgruntled customers. Even if PayPal clients wanted to take their business elsewhere, there is no equivalent alternative.

“Drop PayPal? I’ve thought about it,” wrote an eBay seller who identified himself as Autochains. “I would have to say 75 percent of my buyers use PayPal, so if I were to just stop accepting them, I would think I’d lose a good percentage of my business.”

Industry analyst Steve Weinstein said the angry clients are a “vocal minority” who will not affect PayPal’s business in the market. In 2004, the number of PayPal’s users increased by 61 percent over the previous year. In the third quarter of this year, eBay, based in San Jose, California, had net revenues of $805.9 million.

“eBay built an incredibly efficient platform for a lot of sellers and has created an opportunity for them to do business,” said Mr. Weinstein, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities. “There are no viable alternatives to sellers - for larger sellers who take credit cards, sure - but this is not an opportunity for anyone to step in on PayPal’s area.”

This week, Yahoo! announced the shutdown of its person-to-person online payment service Pay Direct due to a lack of users. Analysts said PayPal’s popularity contributed to PayDirect's demise.

Mr. Weinstein said that because of the relative youth of eBay and PayPal, problems are an inevitable part of growing up.

“These aren’t systems that have been in place for years and years and years,” Mr. Weinstein said. “I understand why people are upset, but it is still the best platform. Despite this problem, eBay and PayPal are still the best opportunity for smaller merchants.”

While analysts opined about growing pains, PayPal clients ranted on eBay discussion forums, their venom directed straight at PayPal.

“Talk about a slap in the face,” one user posted. “I had no access to my money when I needed it most. So far I’ve had one PayPal transaction today. How is that going to make up for that horrible weekend?”

redherring.com

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To: StocksMan who wrote (20277)11/8/2004 9:30:05 AM
From: StocksMan
   of 20297
 
Fifth Third Bank Selects CheckFree(R) PEP+(R) For Scalable, Reliable Automated Clearing House Processing

Monday November 8, 9:00 am ET

-- With the addition of Fifth Third as a CheckFree PEP+ customer, CheckFree claims 20 of the top 25 ACH originators among its customer base --

ATLANTA, Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CheckFree Software, a division of CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR - News), today announced that Fifth Third Bank (Nasdaq: FITB - News) will deploy CheckFree PEP+ to provide a more efficient and customer-service-oriented Automated Clearing House (ACH) processing solution for its corporate customers. Fifth Third Bank, a leading financial services company, will use PEP+ to provide an online, real-time processing platform that enables the origination and receipt of electronic payments through the ACH.

Fifth Third Bank operates 17 affiliate banks with over 1,000 full-service banking centers and ATM operations in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, West Virginia, Florida and Tennessee. Fifth Third currently uses CheckFree ARP/SMS(TM), a real-time check and deposit reconciliation system and CheckFree Frontier(TM) reconciliations solution to drive operational efficiency, reduce costs and provide greater control over risk management. With both Frontier and PEP+, Fifth Third can better manage transaction volumes, increase efficiency and improve customer service.

"With the growing number of ACH transactions, Fifth Third needed a reliable, scalable platform to handle our volume today and serve as a foundation for future growth. PEP+ fit the bill," said Mary Jane Kelley, Director of Treasury Management at Fifth Third Bank. "Fifth Third continues to broaden its service offerings for our customers by expanding our relationship with CheckFree Software to provide quicker processing and an integrated solution."

CheckFree Software offers superior functionality, automating virtually every step in ACH processing, resulting in greater efficiency and customer service capability. Key PEP+ features include: online access and control for self-service and efficiency, risk management, multi-institutional processing, automated stop payments, automated scheduling, debit authorization and protection and automated settlement and returns.

"More than two-thirds of the nation's 10 billion ACH payments are currently processed using PEP+ software," said Denny Oswalt, Senior Vice President and General Manager of North American Operations for CheckFree Software. "By leveraging CheckFree Software's expertise in this area, a company, such as Fifth Third Bank, can realize improved flexibility, reliability and cost efficiency with its streamlined process. . ."

biz.yahoo.com

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To: StocksMan who wrote (20278)11/9/2004 12:00:19 PM
From: StocksMan
   of 20297
 
CheckFree Software Announces CheckFree Payee Verification(TM) Providing Cost Savings for Financial Institutions and Their Customers

Tuesday November 9, 9:01 am ET

-- CheckFree Payee Verification Offers a Fraud Protection and Positive Pay Solution That Increases Security and Reduces the Risk of Check Fraud --

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AFP Annual Conference Booth# 1613 -- CheckFree Software, a business of CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR - News), today announced the availability of CheckFree Payee Verification at The Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) 2004 annual conference. CheckFree Payee Verification provides financial institutions with a new tool to protect against check fraud and expands the positive pay services offered to their commercial customers.

Industry organizations estimate check fraud costs companies millions of dollars annually. For 35 years, CheckFree pioneered and innovated positive pay solutions that matched a corporate customer's check issue file with a physical check by using payment amount or check number. Now forgers have begun to alter the payee name on a check to get stolen or duplicated checks processed. The new CheckFree Payee Verification module can significantly reduce the risks to financial institutions and their commercial customers by using image capture technology to pull payee names off of check images.

Payee Verification is integrated with CheckFree's ARP/SMS (Account Reconciliation Package/Service Management System), a check reconciliation and positive pay solution. This new module is integrated with the CheckFree ARP/SMS solution to provide additional fraud protection and positive pay services as well as the ability to specifically reconcile and match the payee name. This enhanced cash management/positive pay tool allows banks to identify altered or unmatched payee paid exception items. If the results conclude the check has been changed or added to, it is rejected as an exception and may be presented to the company for a "pay" or "return" decision with no loss to the customer or the bank.

"With CheckFree Payee Verification, check forgers will not be able to pass checks that do not match bank and merchant data," said Denny Oswalt, senior vice president, North American operations for CheckFree Software. "CheckFree has added Payee Verification to our fraud protection suite of services to protect a bank and its corporate customers and significantly reduce their financial losses."

Product Availability

CheckFree Payee Verification is available as an add-on module to CheckFree's ARP/SMS application beginning December 31, 2004. . .

biz.yahoo.com

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To: StocksMan who wrote (20279)11/11/2004 11:44:53 AM
From: StocksMan
   of 20297
 
CheckFree Investment Services Evolves CheckFree APL(TM) Into a Next Generation Web-based Offering; Renames Leading Technology Platform CheckFree EPL(TM) to Emphasize an Enhanced Portfolio Lifecycle

Thursday November 11, 9:00 am ET

-- CheckFree EPL will Set a New Standard as a Platform to Enable Clients to Grow and Administer Institutional and Fee-Based Accounts --

ATLANTA and JERSEY CITY, N.J., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CheckFree Investment Services, a division of CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR - News), today announced the next phase of a transformation to evolve the technology, workflows and services currently available through CheckFree APL(TM), its market leading technology platform. The next generation, called CheckFree EPL(TM) (Enhanced Portfolio Lifecycle), is Web-based and designed with Microsoft®.NET technology to deliver superior business, operational and cost efficiencies to broker/dealer firms, money managers and registered investment advisors.

CheckFree Investment Services is the leading provider of remote processing services -- trading, portfolio management, accounting, reporting services and data -- to broker/dealers, money managers and investment consultants. The firm is introducing CheckFree EPL to its clients in phases. Workflow for New Accounts, the first phase, unveiled in March 2004, is a module for streamlining the investment management process, by enabling the industry's first real time new account opening function between managers and sponsors. In December, CheckFree Investment Services expects to introduce new reconciliation functionality, creating efficiencies by providing exception process management tools that highlight immediate risk and exceptions. Beta testing on remaining modules of CheckFree EPL will begin in fall 2005.

"CheckFree is driving innovation in separately managed accounts and institutional money management with an open architecture that features new web functionality, advanced workflow efficiencies, and reduced resources required of client firms for a lower total cost of operation," said Alex Marasco, CheckFree Investment Services executive vice president and general manager. "Our clients will potentially experience dramatic improvement in operating efficiencies, making it easier for them to grow their business, launch new products and provide more personalized attention to investors."

To achieve its time to market goals, CheckFree Investment Services has contracted with Satyam Computer Services Ltd. as its development partner for CheckFree EPL. Satyam is a market leader with demonstrated experience in reengineering legacy applications to emerging platforms, using Microsoft.NET technologies. To ensure the highest possible quality product development per customer and market requirements for CheckFree EPL, CheckFree Investment Services is leveraging the Six Sigma expertise and methodology that was used to build CheckFree Corporation's electronic billing and payment platform. By applying the Six Sigma discipline, CheckFree Investment Services will increase quality and value on numerous fronts, including support of industry standard protocols, transparent data exchange, multi-currency capabilities and significant potential reduction of overall costs and operations for clients. These enhancements, among others, will enable CheckFree clients to deliver greater quality and value to their own customers and investors.

CheckFree EPL will support additional asset classes and instrument types, provide real-time transaction fulfillment and other mission-critical services such as tighter integration with internal and external systems and service providers. The system will offer scalability for products across multiple distribution channels, via a Web-based front-end with full reporting and audit capabilities.

While CheckFree Investment Services is renowned in the separately managed accounts industry, CheckFree APL is also broadly used within the institutional money management arena. CheckFree Investment Services currently has in excess of 100 institutional money manager clients. An enhanced CheckFree EPL will service this marketplace through more robust multi-currency, trade order management and cash management/margin capabilities. Through CheckFree EPL, CheckFree Investment Services seeks to provide a single platform solution to its money manager clients for their combined institutional business as well as their separately managed accounts.

Currently, CheckFree APL serves as the leading separately managed accounts platform, providing remote processing services to sponsor firms, money managers and financial advisors for the automation of investment management, trading, portfolio performance and investor reporting. CheckFree APL's open platform enables approximately 80 of the top Wall Street (sponsor) firms and 125 separate account managers to interface with each other, and operate in a straight-through processing environment. Institutional money managers also use CheckFree APL to enter and maintain account data, manage trades and measure portfolio performance. . .

biz.yahoo.com

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To: StocksMan who wrote (20280)11/15/2004 2:58:44 PM
From: StocksMan
   of 20297
 
Sovereign Bank Offers Enhanced and Free Online Bill Payment Service

Monday November 15, 2:41 pm ET

WYOMISSING, Pa., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sovereign Bancorp, Inc. announced that it has significantly enhanced its service for viewing and paying bills online at sovereignbank.com. The new BillPay service is now free and made available through the bank's technology partnership with CheckFree Services Corporation, a subsidiary of CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR - News).

Utilizing the newest version of CheckFree Web(SM), Sovereign's electronic billing and payment service offers consumers numerous convenient features to manage bills and payments. The enhancements are the result of extensive consumer research and usability testing. The new features include a more simplified single-point bill management center, faster payment processing, improved integration with online banking, and the availability of payment posting information.

"We wanted our customers to be among the first to experience the convenience of the new CheckFree product. The many enhancements, including improved ease-of-use and quicker payments, will help them maximize control of their finances and minimize the time they spend paying bills," said Marianne Doran-Collins, senior vice president, Sovereign Bank. "Our organizations share a commitment to quality, and this service is backed by security and privacy protections, as well as a guarantee to protect against liability for fraud. And the best news is that it is free for all customers."

A recent survey by The Marketing Workshop, Inc. and Harris Interactive, sponsored by CheckFree, concluded that the most satisfied banking customers are those who use a "consolidated" electronic billing and payment service, meaning that they pay all of their bills at one site. Consolidated site users, when compared with those who pay one bill at a time at a biller's site, often called "biller direct," report being better able to manage and organize their finances, appreciate reminders that help them protect their credit scores by paying on time, and report that the consolidated site saves them time and hassle.

With the new service, the bank's customers will experience a bill product that is:

Free. Sovereign Bank has waived its fee for electronic billing and payment services.

Fast. Improved functionality lets customers schedule multiple payments in a fraction of the time it takes now. Some payments can be processed same-day or next-day, and all payments within three or four business days, meaning payments no longer need to be scheduled five or more business days in advance. CheckFree's relationships with thousands of billers and merchants, and its bill calendar technology included in CheckFree Web, enable bill payments to be scheduled and credited faster than ever before.

Easy. The new BillPay service is simpler to navigate and use. Access to all critical BillPay information is consolidated onto one page, and the service provides the ability to receive bills electronically, so there are fewer paper bills to track.

Guaranteed. The Sovereign BillPay Guarantee, backed by the CheckFree Guarantee, assures the timely, safe arrival of payments.

"Electronic billing and payment leads to more satisfied customers who have longer relationships with their banks. Offering CheckFree Web 4.0 benefits the banking institution, the billers and their mutual customers . everyone wins," said Matt Lewis, Executive Vice President of Client Development, CheckFree Services Corporation. "With CheckFree's new platform, Sovereign Bank is providing its customers with a wealth of new features that make it easier than ever to pay bills online and maximize control of personal finances. . ."

biz.yahoo.com

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To: StocksMan who wrote (20281)11/16/2004 5:47:37 PM
From: Bruce Prescott
   of 20297
 
A curious thing happened to my Checkfree stock today.

I placed a day order to sell 100 shares at $35 a share at about 1:30 PM CST yesterday. I thought I would lock in a few profits at a time I thought it was peaking. But, it had already begun to retreat from $35 and to my knowledge did not advance to $35 again for the rest of the day.

When I checked my account at 5:30 PM CST yesterday, there was no notice that the shares had sold.

Today at about 4:30 PM CST I had my first opportunity to check on the price of CKFR and was pleasantly surprised to see that it closed at nearly $36 a share. Then I checked my brokerage account and discovered that 100 shares of my stock had sold yesterday at $35.

I called my new broker -- Bank of America -- (they just bought out my old broker -- Quick & Reilly) and asked them to tell me the time of day when my shares sold, but, alas, they can't tell me.

Does anyone have a suggestion for a brokerage firm that can be more forthright and timely with pertinent information?

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To: Bruce Prescott who wrote (20282)11/16/2004 8:26:35 PM
From: Sweet Ol
   of 20297
 
When I have had questions for E*Trade they have been able to track my trade to the minute. However, they do not put the time on the trade confirmations nor can I find it on the trade history pages on the web site. So, I don't know how long they have that information available.

Best,

JRH

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To: Sweet Ol who wrote (20283)11/17/2004 4:09:19 PM
From: StocksMan
   of 20297
 
What's Your Type? CheckFree-Sponsored Lieberman Study Identifies Six Types of Bill Payers

Wednesday November 17, 4:00 pm ET

-- From Maximizers to Desperate Avoiders, Americans Approach Paying Bills Differently --

ATLANTA, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- While monthly bills are a fact of life for most consumers, the approach people take to paying their bills varies widely. Today, CheckFree Corporation (Nasdaq: CKFR - News) announced the results of a 2004 survey conducted by Lieberman Research. The survey found that Americans fit into six categories when it comes to attitudes about paying their bills, and that these segments are likely to approach bill paying in very different ways -- ranging from seeing their bill payment behavior as a way to get ahead to a task they are desperately trying to avoid.

The Lieberman survey of 1,200 Internet users, sponsored by CheckFree, which powers the bill payment services of more than 1,400 banks and Web sites, is representative of the approximately 74 million online consumer households in the United States. As of June 2004, an estimated 52.7 percent of online households have paid at least one bill online according to CheckFree Analytic Research Services, a group that studies consumer financial behavior year-round to enhance products and share trends with the company's clients.

The participants in the CheckFree-Lieberman study either have primary responsibility for paying their household's bills or share that responsibility. The attitude segmentation found that most Americans fit into one of the following six bill payment categories:

- e-Savvy Planner -- e-Savvy planners are excited by the idea of trying
the latest technology products and services and are willing to spend
money on tools that make managing their finances easier. They tend to
be organized and successful financial planners, are technology
optimists who may be among the first to use the latest gadgets, and are
often asked for technology advice by friends and family. They typically
sign up for electronic billing and payment at their bank, credit union
or brokerage site, because of the flexibility and centralized features
that such a service provides.

- Convenience Seeker -- Convenience seekers do not want to spend a long
time paying bills. They are interested in "quick and easy" services and
are likely to pay their bills online at a single Web site such as their
bank. Convenience Seekers are more likely than the other segments to
believe that paying bills online is safer than paying bills via the
paper mail, and value the ability to track and control their spending
from one site.

- Self-Improver -- Self-Improvers find financial management to be
stressful and time consuming, but they are actively seeking help to
gain control of their finances. They often struggle to manage their
budgets, may overlook bills and frequently carry a balance on their
credit cards. They are in search of an organizational system that gives
them increased control and makes managing finances easier. Paying
bills online at one place appeals to them because they acknowledge that
they "need help."

- Maximizer -- Maximizers manage their money strategically and actively
seek rewards such as frequent flyer points. They tend to be financially
secure, and schedule bills to be paid online in order to optimize cash
flow and to qualify for low interest rates. They particularly like the
time savings and not having to deal with the hassle of making a trip to
buy stamps, or writing checks to the same companies each month.

- Desperate Avoider -- Desperate Avoiders are stressed about their
finances in general and can be overwhelmed by their debts. They
typically find monthly bill payment to be a chore and financial
management in general to be very stressful. They have trouble keeping
track of finances, and may avoid opening bills and delay paying them
altogether. By paying and receiving bills online at a single Web site,
and using self-scheduled reminders, these Desperate Avoiders could gain
control of the bill payment process.

- Paranoid Paper Pusher -- Paranoid Paper Pushers are distrustful of
Internet security and believe they are safer receiving paper bills and
sending paper checks by mail. They are very careful and organized about
their finances and may have developed a comprehensive paper-based
financial management system that they've been using for many years.

Consumers who want to learn more about the benefits of paying bills online and use a search tool to identify banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, portals and billers in their state who offer these services, can visit checkfree.com , a consumer education site. . .

biz.yahoo.com

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From: Mr. Mo12/6/2004 10:44:27 PM
   of 20297
 
USA TODAY: Electronic payments surpass paper checks

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the first time, Americans' use of credit cards, debit cards and other electronic bill paying has eclipsed paper checks.

The number of electronic payment transactions last year totaled 44.5 billion — exceeding the number of checks paid, 36.7 billion — according to Federal Reserve studies released Monday.

That's a first, the Fed said.

"The balance has shifted from check writing to electronic payments, and we expect this trend to continue," said Richard Oliver, senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Federal Reserve banks' product manager for retail payments.

In the Fed's previous research, the number of consumer and business checks paid in 2000 came to 41.9 billion, while the number of credit cards, debt cards and other electronic payments totaled 30.6 billion.

The shift seen in 2003 toward more electronic payments reflects the expanding role of technology in the retail, financial and banking businesses, private economists said. It also reflects industry's efforts to make electronic payments more convenient for customers, economists said.

"It's all about convenience. No longer do consumers want to write checks with two forms of identification. It's just too cumbersome," said Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research. "It's so much easier to swipe and sign."

Yamarone also believed that incentives linked to credit cards and some other electronic payments is a factor behind their increasing use. "You don't get any air miles for writing checks," he said.

The studies' results aren't surprising, Yamarone said. He confesses he has written only two checks this year, both to cover the costs of dry cleaning.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has said the number of checks written in this country began to decline in the mid-1990s, while electronic payments have grown substantially.

The Fed study said the 36.7 billion checks paid in 2003 had a value of about $39.3 trillion. The figures are based on the number of checks paid during the period, not written, the Fed said. The studies didn't provide a figure for the number of checks written.

The 44.5 billion electronic payments in 2003 had a dollar value of $27.4 trillion.

Other findings of the Fed surveys:

•The number of credit card payments totaled 19 billion in 2003, with a value of $1.7 trillion. The number of debt card transactions totaled 15.6 billion, with a dollar value of $600 billion.

•There were 6.1 billion ATM withdrawals in 2003, with a total value of $520 billion. Commercial bank customers accounted for 64.7% of ATM withdrawals.

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