A small Boston-area company has launched an information-based service on the Internet aimed at helping corporations find the best financing available.

The service, from Duncan Resource Group Inc., is an Internet World Wide Web site called Corporate Finance Network.

Duncan said corporations can use it to shop for the best credit lines on offer from banks, investment banks, or other financial concerns.

Tim Duncan, president of the Cambridge, Mass.-based company, said businesses can use the service to find a wealth of information more efficiently than through the usual means - telephone, personal contacts, or advertising.

"Our focus is entirely on business-to-business financing," Mr. Duncan said. "We are trying to make a fairly inexpensive mechanism for banks to be found by potential business clients."

The company said the automated search tools it is developing will find the finance source that best matches the user's criteria.

Within six months the service will offer on-line business loan applications for up to $100,000, Mr. Duncan said. "You might look at it as a giant financial electronic trade show for businesses."

More than 50 banks and other sources of funding have web sites within Corporate Finance Network, Mr. Duncan said. These include Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of Boston Corp., and Citicorp, he said.

Some of those already on the site are being charged monthly fees, Mr. Duncan said, and eventually all will be.

Mark Hardie, a technology analyst at Tower Group, a Wellesley, Mass.- based consulting firm, noted that the Internet's 30 million users worldwide have no definitive directories where business relationships could be initiated.

The Duncan service may add a measure of stability to a "wild and woolly place," he said .

On the down side, the Internet is for a "technically astute audience," Mr. Hardie noted - it is "pretty challenging even for the seasoned user."

Therefore, he said, though the idea of offering a centralized service for businesses on the Internet makes sense, it remains to be seen whether such a service can become an effective channel for corporate finance.

The ordinary ways to obtain financing work very well, Mr. Hardie observed, "and require very little understanding of technology."

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