Scotiabank has launched a new subsidiary, e-Scotia.com, to help Canadian companies secure their business on the Internet, and has signed an agreement with Microsoft Canada Corp. to help with its endeavour.
According to the new agreement, Scotiabank will feature financial information on the Microsoft portal Web site, msn.ca, and Microsoft will be offering services to Canadian companies who want to start doing business on the Internet. These services would include such things as Web design. The companies are aiming to have links established by the end of the year.
“We said, ‘There has to be a great opportunity here for us to work with the Canadian business, to help move them to the 21 st century, help move them to e-commerce,'” explained Albert Wahbe, president of e-Scotia.com.
e-Scotia.com will supply businesses with products and services to ensure their businesses are secure on the Internet. The products that will be offered include Public Key Infrastructure (PKI technology) from Entrust Technologies.
“We felt that with our e-commerce strategy, with our e-Scotia.com giving secure financial services, and our partnership with Microsoft — to give them Web design, Web hosting, Web marketing — together we can offer one-stop shopping for Canadian business…” Wahbe said.
All businesses will be targeted — small, medium and large — but the main focus will be on small- to mid-size companies, according to Wahbe, since larger companies usually handle their e-commerce themselves, he said.
Joe Greene, director of telecom and Internet services at IDC Canada Ltd., said that small businesses need the help.
“They don’t have the resources, they don’t have the money, they’re very confused about this, and the bank’s stepping forward and saying, ‘Look, we’re going to help facilitate this,'” Greene said. “The bank already has the name – they’re already trusted by their clients and things like that, and if they can add an element of help as well as security, and transaction, that will help spur the adoption of e-commerce and e-business amongst Canadian businesses.”
Another point made by Wahbe was small businesses on the Web may not receive recognition as a valid or trustworthy business. But with this alliance, the two companies hope that branding the sites under their care will make consumers shopping on the Web feel more secure, he said.
“By them partnering with Scotiabank and Microsoft, and stamping on their Web site ‘partners with Scotiabank and Microsoft’, and ‘secure by Scotiabank’, indirectly we have authenticated them. Indirectly we have said, this business is secure, this business exists,” Wahbe explained.
Greene said that name recognition will certainly help.
“It creates in the mind of the small end-user that this is for real because it’s a bank and it’s Microsoft and Microsoft is a player in the e-business and e-commerce stair ??,” he said. “That obviously will help in terms of the adoption amongst small Canadian businesses for Scotiabank’s move into this marketplace.”
The fact that it is a bank and already in the transaction business is also in its favour, said Greene.
He also said the Canadian e-commerce market is behind the U.S. market, and that fact is not something new.
“We’re typically a year behind the U.S. in terms of IT adoption,” he said, “and it should come as no surprise to anyone that we’re behind in the adoption of e-business and e-commerce.”
Wahbe said Scotiabank saw the lagging Canadian e-commerce market as an opportunity.
“The whole fundamental of this is to go to the marketplace and say, ‘Okay Canadian business, you’re behind American business,'” he said. “Rather than going to 12 or 14 places to put your business on the Web, here’s a partnership that right away can move you to the Web.”
Scotiabank is currently working with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), to come up with the different packages that it will be offering. According to Wahbe, customized packages for different types of businesses and services are being planned, but specific information on the packages and pricing won’t be available until the end of this month.
Some of the services e-Scotia.com will be offering include Certification Authority and advisory services. For enterprises, the company says it will handle the continuous distribution of certificates and keys, and will manage them for their entire life-cycle. As well, e-Scotia.com will issue certificates under a company’s name, should they require private label certificates.
The market will definitely see more of this type of offering, said Greene.
“More and more banks are going to be getting into this,” he predicted. “They’ve been taking their time and analysing what they can do in this market. The banks will step forward in the not-too-distant future with similar announcements, I’m sure.”