Barclays Bank, HSBC and ABN Amro are among the financial institutions backing the scheme to develop a Web payment standard for triggering high-value payments between businesses.
First reported by Computer Weekly last summer, the Eleanor system is aimed at companies of all sizes, across all industries. It could simplify electronic payments, handle billions of pounds worldwide and reduce paper-based transactions.
Eleanor, which uses XML, is due to be launched as a commercial service by the middle of this year. It is based on the Identrus platform and can link into the existing banking system.
"Our customers and partners are ready to take advantage of e-commerce so they do not have to resort to offline means to execute payments," said Jane Hennessy, senior vice-president at Wells Fargo, one of the institutions piloting the system.
Eleanor's backers claim it will cut costs for businesses wanting to trade online and help them manage their cashflow better by allowing buyers to specify the times of payments.