Bank One Corp. has become the first banking company to implement a Web- based purchasing system resulting from an alliance of Microsoft Corp., MasterCard International, and Clarus Corp.

Steven Abrams, senior vice president at MasterCard, said Bank One has taken the lead in a program that MasterCard will be promoting heavily to its member banks.

In the next few months Bank One will "sign several large corporate customers to pilot it," said Anna Rumsey, first vice president of commercial cards. "It will appeal to our broad customer base. We are showing the best product on the market to our customers."

Michael Kim, product manager of electronic commerce marketing at Microsoft, said his company provides back-end merchant technology, while banks provide relationships with suppliers and buyers.

More partners will be added to the alliance, Mr. Abrams said. MasterCard has "the leading corporate payment brand in the marketplace," he said.

An announcement is slated today about what these companies are calling the WebPurchasing program. During an electronic-commerce briefing in March sponsored by Microsoft, the Clarus technology was one of many running on Microsoft software such as the Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition.

WebPurchasing participants expected to be named today at a GartnerGroup Internet commerce conference in New York include Ernst & Young, Digex Inc., Office Depot Inc., and Bank One's First Chicago subsidiary.

Other MasterCard members in the program include Bank of Montreal and its Harris Bank in Chicago, Fifth Third Bank of Cincinnati, First of Omaha Merchant Processing, and the major merchant processor Paymentech.

MasterCard itself is using Clarus' E-Procurement system and said it has reduced processing costs by 70%. The credit card processor First Data Corp. and the Hyatt Hotels chain are also Clarus customers.

E-Procurement is part of the Clarus Commerce suite, which was launched last month and "has been designed to run on the Microsoft Commerce platform. There is relatively easy installation," said Steven Jeffery, president and chief executive officer of Clarus, which is based in Atlanta.

This puts it in competition with another Microsoft partner, CommerceOne, more than against Ariba Technologies, a resource systems company that bases products on Unix and Java operating systems.

The benefits of Clarus, said Mr. Abrams, are that it can provide line- item detail-meeting the procurement card Level 3 standard-for every transaction, and is "easier for employees to purchase goods."

Bank One has been working with Clarus' purchasing system since last year.

It was demonstrated at a meeting of Bank One commercial card customers in October.

Interest has grown since then, Ms. Rumsey said. "We hope to complete pilot sign-up for a high number of our large customers" in the next few months, she said.

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