July 29, 2004, 12:00 AM

Checking It Out

(Page 2 of 2)

Make it user friendly

Implementing acceptance may be easy; it’s the next step-the user interface-that can create problems, observers say. “The numbers at the bottom of the check can be daunting to many people,” De Palma says. “The payment page should be as user friendly as possible so you minimize the opportunity for errors.”

Some retailers present a payment page that mimics a check. Others offer a standard payment window, but include prompts as to what information the retailer needs and where to find it on a check. Just as with credit card payment, the e-check forms can automatically fill in the amount of the sale.

For the future, observers are looking for a more real-time experience. In spite of the real-time and near real-time authorization and debiting of ATM withdrawals and ATM-card payments at the point of sale, the e-check business still operates on delayed authorization and debiting. “The infrastructure exists, but it’s the infrastructure for debit cards, not for checks,” De Palma says. “The information on a debit card stripe is not the same as the information on a check.” Involving the ATM networks in online payment could help solve that problem, he notes.

However that issue resolves, though, it’s only the start, De Palma says. “We’re not done yet, by any means,” he says. “There are all sorts of innovations that will be happening in this market.”

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