Fiserv aims to make passing hat a thing of the past

Maybe this spells the end of office cash pools for gifts and fundraisers.

Fiserv, a Wisconsin-based financial services and tech company with major Atlanta operations, has launched a person-to-person (P2P) payment system tailor-made for the iPhone set.

Called ZashPay, it works similarly to a PayPal account, but funds are distributed directly from bank to bank.

ZashPay is designed to replace cash and checks for virtually any non-commercial situation— from office baby shower or going-away gifts to school fundraisers, said Steve Shaw, Fiserv director of strategic marketing for electronic banking services.

“We’ve gone from check books and cash to debit and credit cards. Now we’re moving to electronic funds,” Shaw said.

Consumers can pay via mobile phone or from their computer— all they need is the recipient’s mobile phone number or e-mail address. Transactions process within 24 hours, and the system has features to cancel payments if needed.

As society has become less cash-dependent, consumers have looked for more ways to pay with a click, Shaw said.

Sheila Cornelius, president of Georgia PTA, said parent teacher associations could benefit from electronic systems like this.

Parents sometimes forget their checkbooks during school orientation when it’s time to join a PTA.

“It would make life a lot simpler,” she said.

ZashPay launched in late June, and more than 280 banks nationwide have committed to the service. Fiserv already has 250,000 registered users, and the average transaction is about $100, Shaw said.

Some banks offer it for free, while transactions conducted directly from ZashPay.com are 75 cents each.

The Fortune 500 company processes electronic payments and other services for 16,000 banks, retailers and utility companies worldwide. ZashPay has the same security features consumers are accustomed to from online banking.

As Internet usage becomes even more ubiquitous, so will personal electronic payments.

“Look at number of people on Facebook and Twitter, (and other) social networks, it’s exploded,” Shaw said. “People are leveraging the online space to manage their lives. It’s a logical extension for consumers.”