Open Market Inc. has announced the purchase of Waypoint Software Corp. for $12 million.

Open Market, a three-year-old software company, helps banks and other companies conduct electronic commerce on the Internet. This is the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm's first acquisition.

Boston-based Waypoint Software helps companies place technical catalogues on the Internet, typically for business-to-business use.

Open Market plans to link Waypoint's software to its OM Transact product, which would allow customers to both order and pay for items they see in Internet catalogus.

Waypoint, which has nine employees, was attractive to Open Market, in part, because of its relationship with Cahners Publishing. The magazine company is both a client and reseller channel for Waypoint.

Open Market, a 350-employee company that focuses on business-to-business applications for the Internet, supplies software to a number of banks, including First Union Corp., Banc One Corp., and Toronto-Dominion Bank.

"When we look at business-to-business Internet commerce, we see one of the markets that is moving most quickly," said Gail Goodman, Open Market's vice president of product and industry marketing.

The catalogue product that Waypoint and Open Market will develop would, for instance, help an engineer find a piece of hardware with certain technical specifications.

An order for the hardware could be placed on-line.

"If you went through a paper catalogue it would take you approximately half an hour to find the right part," Ms. Goodman said.

"What we can do on the Internet is let you just type in those attributes, or select them off a list, and get to them in a minute."

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