Canada's Bank of Montreal has taken a stake in B2B network eScout and plans to offer its 440,000 small and mid-sized enterprise customers free access to the online marketplace.
In the US, more than 75,000 buyers and 100 suppliers currently buy and sell goods and services over the Web with eScout.
Marnie Kinsley, executive vice president, e-business, Bank of Montreal, says: "Through eScout, our customers will save time and money by purchasing competitively-priced supplies online through a single site and will have access to a variety of resources through a trusted network of buyers and sellers."
Bank of Montreal customers will have free access to eScout later this year when rollout begins in Southwestern Ontario. The full launch is scheduled to take place in early 2002.
In addition to a multi-year licensing fee, Bank of Montreal will invest approximately C$10.8 million in eScout. Charles Piermarini, senior vice president of Venture Creation for Bank of Montreal, is to join eScout's board of directors.
The deal with BMO marks the venture's first incursion into the Canadian marketplace. eScout's US network of 1300 regional and community banks represents 15 percent of American banks.
Chicago-based Harris Bank, a member of the Bank of Montreal Group of Companies, is one of the eight founding members of eScout.