International Business Machines Corp., Visa International, and six financial institutions on Tuesday announced an alliance to promote electronic banking and commerce in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Interactive Financial Services Alliance aims to emulate many of the functions of the North American-based Integrion Financial Network, a consortium co-owned by IBM, Visa, and 17 banks.

The banks participating in the alliance are: ABN Amro, the Netherlands; Perth-based Bank of Western Australia, a subsidiary of Bank of Scotland; Infomas, a technology services arm of Jakarta, Indonesia-based Tunasmas Group; Kookmin Bank of Seoul, Korea; Royal Bank of Canada; and St. George Bank in Sydney, Australia.

"The IFS alliance is a strategic alliance that will help banks quickly deliver reliable electronic banking service," said John C. Shackelford, president of the alliance, which is based in Singapore.

The alliance is expected to focus on business-to-business applications, in contrast to the home banking focus of its North American counterpart, said Mr. Shackelford, a former KeyCorp executive involved in the formation of Integrion in 1996.

Its goals include promoting usage of Integrion's Gold messaging specification in areas of electronic commerce beyond home banking and advising regulatory bodies about how financial services and commerce should be delivered electronically.

Unlike Integrion, the members of the alliance will not have an equity stake in the consortium. The alliance will license the right to use the Interactive Financial Services technology in Asia-Pacific from IBM. Other financial institutions are expected to join the group.

"We see a great deal of benefit in developing common standards for applications used in the region," said Maurice St. Jean, senior manager for alternative network development at Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada, which has extensive Asian operations.

"With so many regulators, countries, and markets in the Asia-Pacific region, it is much harder to get the scale or critical mass of institutions unless you go outside the scope of a single country," said Mr. St. Jean.

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