Janey Place is candid in describing Mellon Bancorp's building of an electronic commerce infrastructure. "The complexity of it is the biggest risk," she said calmly, now that the biggest and most potentially troublesome part of the two-year project is over.

The Pittsburgh banking company did not take the easiest route when it began preparing for electronic commerce. In her 55th-floor office in New York's MetLife Building, a pickup from Mellon's Dreyfus acquisition, Ms. Place, group executive vice president, drew a sketch to illustrate the complexity of the plan.

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