Fed Reserve gets translation software

The Federal Reserve System recently acquired software from Bottomline Technologies Inc. that will help small banks meet the government's electronic funds transfer mandate.

Bottomline's electronic data interchange (EDI) translation software will be used by about 12,000 financial institutions, which are connected to FedLine, the Federal Reserve's system that allows small banks to send and receive electronic payments, such as wire transfers.

The banks will use a piece of Bottomline's 32-bit PC-based PayBase product suite to translate incoming accounts receivable financial information into data in the form of either e-mail, fax or hard copy.

Few banks can translate these messages and pass remittance information on to the customer, said Robert Allen, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo. As a result, he said, many corporations have been reluctant to receive payments electronically from the government.

This contract, the terms of which were not disclosed, will help prepare banks to comply with the government's electronic funds transfer mandate, which requires all federal payments be made electronically by Jan. 1, 1999, Allen said. "There are about 12,000 FedLine connections, so this will greatly increase the number of financial institutions doing this," he said. The software, which will be called FedEDI, will be deployed around September.

John Insko, vice president of marketing at Bottomline, said the company is customizing the product for the Federal Reserve so all banks see the same screen and use the same reports. "Now that banks can handle the financial EDI information I think we can sell PayBase to a large number of customers," he said.

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