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Bank of Montreal has signed on with eScout, a B2B marketplace of 1,300 regional and community banks in the United States.

Bank of Montreal has signed on with eScout, a Kansas City, Mo.-based B2B marketplace that has built up a network of 1,300 regional and community banks in the United States. The partnership will enable Bank of Montreal to offer its 440,000 commercial customers free access to eScout's business-to-business (B2B) marketplace.

Bank of Montreal customers will access the online marketplace later this year when it is first rolled out in southwestern Ontario. The full launch to all commercial customers will take place in early 2002.

Through eScout, Bank of Montreal customers will soon have freedom to make online purchases of items such as office supplies and computer equipment. Suppliers will benefit from the bank's large customer base, new revenue opportunities and low transaction costs to conduct business online.

Bank of Montreal customers will also save time and money by purchasing competitively priced supplies online though a single site. "They will gain valuable market exposure and will have access to a variety of resources through a trusted network of buyers and sellers," said Marnie Kinsley, executive vice president, e-business at Bank of Montreal.

Bank of Montreal is also investing $7 million in eScout. Charles Piermarini, senior vice president of venture creation at Bank of Montreal, will join eScout's board of directors. Additionally, Bank of Montreal has signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar licensing fee to make eScout available to its commercial customers.

"Our investment in eScout is consistent with our strategy to create new e-businesses in high-growth, high-return areas," said Kinsley. "The bank has the opportunity to make significant advances in the B2B, B2C and P2P markets by carefully selecting solid partners and by leveraging the technological capabilities and assets we have built over the past 184 years."

Bringing one of Canada's premier financial institutions and its customers into eScout strengthens the eScout network for all of its members, noted Sandy Kemper, founder and CEO of eScout. "The next step is to bring new opportunities for U.S.- and Canadian-member companies to buy and sell goods and services with each other. What NAFTA promised North American businesses, this alliance with Bank of Montreal will deliver."

eScout's U.S. network of regional and community banks represents 1% of American banks, and with the addition of Bank of Montreal, the total banking assets of the network will be more than a half trillion dollars. EScout's bank partners serve more than 2.5 million independent businesses. The network is built on a foundation of trust, with each bank in the eScout alliance sponsoring buyers and sellers into the eScout marketplaces.

Seventeen thousand bank-sponsored businesses and more than 75,000 buyers form eScout's online network, where companies transact business through more than 100 eScout-powered private exchanges.

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