Service to aggregate personal Net account information

Computer World –

Web sites looking to offer consumers a new level of service will now be able to become their customers' bill-paying "portal" of choice, with technology released yesterday by Atlanta-based VerticalOne Corp.

The technology is likely to appeal to companies with trusted brands in the real world -- such as banks and

brokerages -- that are looking to build an online presence, as well as so-called portal sites that want to increase the length of customers' visits, analysts said.

Companies will be able to incorporate VerticalOne's technology into their sites with their own look and feel. For example, BellSouth Corp. is a VerticalOne partner that has named its service AccountKeeper. BellSouth customers can use AccountKeeper to keep track of their credit-card and bank account balances, investments, frequent flier miles and other such information. Their account summaries also link directly to the providers of those services, said Gregg Freishtat, CEO and chairman of VerticalOne.

Analyst Jill Frankel at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., said VerticalOne's appeal would be "fairly widespread" among e-commerce sites that want to tighten the relationship they have with their online customers. It also can lower the cost of acquiring customers, she said.

The service is free to consumers. There is no set pricing for Web sites, but it is typical of agreements that destination sites have with content providers, including sharing ad revenue, VerticalOne said. Other sites that have already signed up to offer the service include TheStreet.com, AnyDay.com and PlanetDirect.

Though VerticalOne said it is the first to market in this space, it said "perceived competitors" include money management software, online bill presentment companies such as CheckFree and password consolidators.

The service is based on a Sun Microsystems Inc. architecture and Oracle Corp.'s Oracle8i database and takes advantage of Enterprise Java Beans. In the future, the service will support XML and XSL.

Founded last year, VerticalOne has received more than $16 million in financing from various sources.

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