PNC Bank Corp. has signed a five-year contract with a wholesale electronic catalogue firm to jointly develop payment capabilities for businesses that shop on-line.
The deal is with Industrynet, a Pittsburgh-based company run by former Lotus Corp. chairman James Manzi that maintains on-line catalogues of goods and services to be sold wholesale.
Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed. But officials from the involved companies said their partnership should result in a system that lets businesses locate products, transmit purchase orders, and make purchases via the World Wide Web. PNC will provide clearing and settlement services for the on-line payments.
The bank also will act as the collecting agent for the more than 4,500 companies that post catalogues of wholesale materials on Industrynet. The Web site is used by about 200,000 purchasing agents for large and middle- market distributors and manufacturers.
Development of the payment capability has just begun, with several undisclosed suppliers and manufacturers signing on.
PNC and Industrynet officials plan to use multiple payment systems, including those for credit card, automated clearing house, and financial electronic data interchange transactions.
"This alliance has the potential of offering the first total solution in business-to-business commerce," said Anthony J. Carfang, partner with Treasury Strategies Inc., Chicago.
"Through a few clicks on the Internet, people can post orders," schedule shipments and deliveries, and "complete the payment," he said.
Thomas H. O'Brien, chairman and chief executive of PNC Bank Corp., said he sees a "growing momentum behind electronic commerce.
"We intend to continue our leadership within the banking community by partnering with a leader like Industrynet and by supporting open standards, ensuring that any solution we develop integrates with existing information systems."
Daniel J. Pavlick, senior vice president at PNC, said the initial payment mechanism for the site will be credit cards.
Other forms of electronic payment eventually will be built into the Web site, including more sophisticated credit options for on-line purchases, he said.
"We need to present the buyers with as many options as they are comfortable with," Mr. Pavlick said.
PNC and Industrynet officials described themselves as "Internet brokers," that can match buyers and sellers over the Internet.
To secure the payments and messages traveling over the system, officials are evaluating digital signatures and public key/private key cryptography.
The system will work like this: Corporations will choose products from the catalogue and send electronic purchase orders to Industrynet.
The orders will be routed to the seller's inventory processing system. Buyers then will receive messages confirming the transaction, as well as choices for methods of payment.
The buyers will be able to register credit card information with Industrynet, or initiate payments on their own through other payment systems.