Much hyped and rarely spotted in the wild, e-marketplaces have a lot of ground to cover in Australia before user acceptance takes off.
But a new initiative from Westpac and Intelysis aims to leapfrog user barriers by linking 40,000 online banking customers with more than 17,000 suppliers using the bank's payments and financial services and Intelysis' e-business infrastructure.
"We will offer our customers real buying power and the opportunity to sell goods and services over the Internet to other members of the business community," said David Issa, e-marketplace program director at Westpac. The bank will also trade over the Internet with its suppliers using ConnectTrade Purchasing. Within six months Westpac hopes to trade electronically across eight major requisition categories, while also rationalising its horde of 17,000 suppliers.
Issa said the bank's suppliers will have access to its 40,000 online banking customers, deriving benefits from being able to target small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
"It would have been cost prohibitive for these suppliers to deal with SMEs via traditional channels," Issa said.
And corporate customers will be able to access the purchase to payment' e-procurement solutions from the financial institution via the trading community by the end of 2000, Issa promised.
Unlike most other community hubs, the Westpac and Intelysis e-marketplace will not derive revenue principally from advertising.
However, Chris Wagner, CEO at Intelysis, hinted at a strategic partnership with advertising network DoubleClick, which last year faced lawsuits over its information-collection methods and plans to merge names with anonymous user activity across Web sites.
But for now, the main revenue stream is derived from "sponsors" of the e-marketplace, such as Westpac. Sponsors will pay a licence fee of $2 million and the Connect Trade user interface then appears under the sponsor's brand name to its customers.
Suppliers to the e-marketplace will pay commission, on average 2 to 8 per cent, on each transaction via the marketplace. The rate depends on the sponsor's infrastructure and existing e-commerce capabilities.