Money players still tentative with B2B

Financial institutions are investing "aggressively" in the B2C market, but they are uncertain how to seize market share in the lucrative B2B world, an Arthur Andersen study has revealed.

While executive ambition is there, Arthur Andersen believes strategic planning and consensus on a sole business model are weak.

Arthur Andersen predicts global B2B revenue to rise from $2.7 trillion to over $7 trillion within three years. B2B ventures comprise 84 per cent of total global e-business revenue. It is widely predicted the B2B world will generate substantially more revenues than B2C transactions.

The report, "Converging on an E-Business Future: EB2B in the Financial Services Industry", surveyed commercial and wholesale banking, insurance and asset management organisations from Australia, Asia and North America.

For financial services companies to "play" in the new digital marketplace, they need an execution plan providing event-driven, real-time product information to customers, said Guy Schofield, a partner in Arthur Andersen's e-business practice.

"A more radical level of change is required for timely response to high-volume transactions," Schofield said.

Strategic overhaul in the B2B age also demands financial institutions "embrace straight-through" business processes such as data management and reporting.

Efficient and thorough back-end routines would, in turn, create stronger public-facing functions like marketing and distribution, according to Schofield.

The report also revealed that heritage pays in the B2B space. Success will favour the "well-established" traditional financial services companies. Blue ribbon banks had stronger branding and market position than new online players, according to the study.

Arthur Andersen partners said that Citigroup was a new economy B2B winner, owing to its global market identity, and its alliance with a worldwide digital business hub to process its equity exchange and cash transmissions.

"B2B is the big player," said Byrom Johnston, managing partner for Arthur Andersen AP financial services. "It opens the door to global customers."

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