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ELECTRONIC COMMERCE--WITH A SINGLE VOICE

A PALO ALTO (CALIF.) COMPANY is setting up an ambitious business-to-business electronic-commerce service for launch late this year. For a monthly service fee and about 32 cents per item, EC Co. will transfer purchase orders, invoices, and other electronic documents between trading partners' accounting systems. The system will also help each partner's bank handle electronic payments.

The key is the central computer server that EC plans to run. It's designed to overcome incompatibilities between most of the popular accounting programs in use today by automatically translating their peculiar document formats. In the past, electronic-commerce networks have required participants to use standardized formats. EC's computer will also help trading partners locate and qualify each other by listing their products, banking partners, and computer setup.

EC has raised $4.5 million in private backing so far. To help build a critical mass of participants, it plans to give away a basic, Windows-based software package that will help any company receive transactions from EC's private network. It is also planning to share commissions with banks and accounting software companies that recommend its services to their customers.

EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITY


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Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
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