After hearing correspondent banking customers complain that they must pay more than big banks for office supplies, UMB Financial Corp. of Kansas City, Mo., came up with a high-tech answer: a Web site that lets small banks band together to get bulk discounts.

The $7.5 billion-asset company devised eScout.com this year to satisfy a need expressed by many of its 1,350 small-bank clients in seven states. By placing orders together, the banks get bulk rates from vendors such as Gateway Inc. and Boise Cascade Office Products Corp. -- rates usually reserved for larger companies.

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