Service Makes Online Check Payment Easy

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Achex Inc. is expected today to unveil its online payment service in conjunction with a major promotion by Kmart's

Achex allows a consumer to sign up for a free account that is connected directly to his checking account. When he makes a purchase at any of the more than 5,000 Achex-enabled merchants, including, he can pay directly from his checking account by entering his Achex name and password.

"We're trying to solve the disconnect that exists online. There's a big difference in the way payments are made in the physical world vs. online," said Terry Allen-Ruman, CEO of Achex Inc., South San Francisco, CA. "In the physical world, 75 percent of non-cash payments are made by check. It's by far the most popular way to pay."

Using a check is not really an option online currently, Allen-Ruman said. "There's really no good way to pay by check except for mailing it to merchants. [In that circumstance] they can't send the merchandise until the check clears."

BlueLight is the first merchant to go live with the Achex option. It will be situated at the site's checkout along with the option of using Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

BlueLight, San Francisco, is Kmart's e-commerce channel. BlueLight's goal is to meet the online shopping needs of more than 30 million Americans who visit a Kmart retail location each week.

The site will send 1 million postcards to the Kmart database of shoppers. Additionally, it will send 1.5 million e-mails urging customers "to pay by check safely and securely using Achex," Allen-Ruman said.

The mailings will target consumers who have paid by check at Kmart and have a computer. They will receive an offer for $10 off their purchase using Achex. The tag line is, "A New Way to Buy at"

All of the 5,060 merchants that have signed on to use the service have agreed to promote it to their customers by either placing information on their sites or sending e-mails or direct mail pieces. These companies include, Webvan and

Achex is not the only company addressing the problem of using checks online. Noevi Data Corp. launched its product Nov. 11.

This payment solution allows users to send and receive paper checks online. Qchex uses e-mail to notify recipients that they have been sent a check. They can click on a link to be taken to a secure area where they can print out the check for deposit. Check paper or regular printer paper can be used.

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