Even as small banks are being encouraged to set up their merchant customers on the Web, some big banks that pioneered such services are reportedly pulling back. Among them are Fleet Boston Corp. and First Union Corp., Charlotte, NC, according to an executive with a technology vendor who preferred not to be named, but whose organization competes with banks that attempt to enable merchants to sell online.

Sour grapes or something more? The implicated banks say the source's comments are baseless, but there are signs that banks are not readily becoming merchants' ecommerce providers of choice.

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