With First Union's acquisition of Philadelphia's CoreStates Bank came a perk that should help First Union in the wars for corporate and international business: an electronic data interchange (EDI) link between CoreStates and the RoyalBank of Scotland. "That was one of the reasons they paid up for CoreStates-things like the international and corporate businesses," says Nancy Bush, a banking analyst with Brown Brothers Harriman. "(And) to the degree that you serve a corporate base, you need to be able to serve that base internationally, especially in payment systems."

The link gives First Union an electronic payments conduit with Great Britain, in turn, providing it a potential opening in the business of financing trade in goods and services between Europe and the United States, which accounted for $271 billion in 1996, the last full year such statistics were available from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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