Canadian banks and Bell launch national B2B exchange

Canadian banks and Bell launch national B2B exchange

Bell Canada, CIBC, Scotiabank, Mouvement des caisses Desjardins and BCE Emergis are joining forces to create a new electronic marketplace for Canadian businesses.

The companies plan to launch a new e-procurement company, Procuron, to provide Canadian businesses with a national B2B exchange to buy business products and services online. In the first year, the Procuron partners anticipate total combined spending of approximately $1 billion through the Web site, which will have its own sales force. Together, the founding shareholders serve more than half of Canadian businesses.

Under the agreement, BCE Emergis will provide, manage and operate the technology infrastructure. As part of the transaction, BCE Emergis will issue performance-based warrants to the other shareholders of Procuron, subject to regulatory approval.

"Procuron will revolutionise Canada's e-commerce landscape," boasts Steve McKeown, president and CEO of Procuron. "By combining the spending of the four companies and making the best use of their existing channels, we can offer savings and comprehensive e-procurement and e-commerce services for business customers."

Buyers will gain access to the online marketplace through a number of channels, including the Web sites of Bell Canada, CIBC, Scotiabank and Mouvement des caisses Desjardins. Procuron will also have a direct sales force targeted to the needs of larger companies, who will be able to access the B2B marketplace directly. In the near future, Procuron will be seeking alliances with vertical exchanges.

The value of North American business-to-business online transactions is projcted to grow from its current level of $422 billion to $2.9 trillion by 2004, comprising an estimated 17 per cent of all business trade, according to Forrester Research. By that year, it is estimated that more than half of all electronic business-to-business trade will be conducted through online marketplaces. In Canada, the electronic B2B market is expected to generate an estimated $218 billion in transactions.

Procuron will be an independent entity that operates separately from the founding organisations. The company is expected to begin operations later this year

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