An alliance of Internet commerce players is looking to give electronic data interchange (EDI) a shot in the arm by making it easier and cheaper for smaller companies to participate. But the initiative-if successful-could also rob banks of poten-tial fee-based electronic cash management business, proving once again that coming late to the party often means missed opportunities.

It's no secret that the main obstacle to widespread adoption of EDI has been the exorbitant investment it requires, making it too costly for smaller companies.

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