Scottish Power to launch online bill payments

Joint venture with Royal Bank of Scotland allows consumers and small businesses to consolidate bill payments

Scottish Power is to join with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in an Internet joint venture offering a range of financial, utility and maintenance services in one package.

The new service will be tailored both for consumers and for small businesses, who will be able to use it to manage their dealings with suppliers and customers. Launch is expected in early summer 2000.

Iain Robertson, chief executive of RBS' UK bank, told reporters the serice was designed to "take the pain out of living" by making bill-payments more convenient. Consumers will be able to consolidate a number of different kinds of payments -- such as mortgages and utilities payments -- into a single monthly bill.

The two companies are both sinking £35m into the venture, which they expect to reach profitability within three years.

Initially the service, as yet unnamed, will be promoted through a Web site backed by telecoms and Internet company Thus (quote: THUs), which incorporates the popular Demon Internet service provider. Thus is majority-owned by Scottish Power.

The announcement came as Scottish Power revealed its full-year profits for this year would be "substantially" higher than last year after an exceptional £700m gain from Thus' flotation.

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