Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 Mastercard and Actra Form Consortium





PURCHASE, NY & SUNNYVALE, CA (Nov. 18, 1996): MasterCard International and Actra Business Systems, a joint venture between Netscape Communications Corp. and GE Information Services, Inc., have formed a consortium to bring together financial institutions, corporations and suppliers to pilot a standards-based secure Internet system for corporate purchasing globally. Called the Actra OrderExpert System, the new electronic catalog-based order management system will allow corporations to purchase goods and services on the Internet. For corporations that use the MasterCard Corporate Purchasing Card, the Actra OrderExpert System will provide them with full detail on every transaction.

Participating consortium members include: Actra Business Systems, American Material Resources Inc., (Ouray, CO), Bank of America, Boise Cascade Office Products, Citibank, First Chicago NBD, First Data Corp., GE Capital Financial, General Motors, Hamilton Hallmark an Avnet Company, Hoffman-La Roche, Hughes Aircraft, MasterCard International, NBC, and Netscape Communications Corp.

The consortium will demonstrate the financial and technical feasibility of such a purchasing system during the pilot program, which will support the MasterCard Corporate Purchasing Card, an electronic payment method with sophisticated reporting capabilities. OrderExpert will link Corporate Purchasing Card users with their critical suppliers and their financial institutions.

The market potential for such a system is enormous; for example, Killen & Associates forecasts that global consumers and businesses will use the Internet to order $600 billion in goods and services in the year 2000. The National Association of Purchasing Managers estimates the U.S. market for business-to-business purchases at $370 billion annually.

"This effort will forge the future of the purchasing card -- it will bring together the MasterCard Corporate Purchasing Card payment infrastructure, EDI accommodation and multimedia capability for electronic catalogs on a distributed network like the Internet," said Steve L. Abrams, senior vice president, U.S. Corporate Products, MasterCard International. "In the Internet environment, purchasing transactions will be faster, more efficient and cost effective."

"In addition, OrderExpert will provide corporations with complete line-item detail on each and every transaction, giving users real-time access to critical product information," Abrams added. "With this project and others, we're leading the charge into electronic commerce as part of our efforts to make sure the buyer and the seller -- in this case major corporations and their key suppliers -- come together anytime, anywhere."

Jim C. Sha, CEO of Actra Business Systems, said: "Creating this consortium is a vital step in the development of open and widely-supported standards for Internet-based purchasing and Actra, Netscape and GE Information Services are committed to driving the development of those standards. A universally supported purchasing card service for the Internet is a powerful tool for doing business, and helps companies benefit from the savings in time and money that electronic purchasing provides."

Benefits to Corporations and Suppliers

The consortium will develop and promote the system, which will provide corporations with electronic-purchasing capabilities through the use of electronic product catalog-based order management with real-time access to current products and pricing. In addition, the system's functionality will be compatible with current electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, which provides the flexibility to accommodate small, medium or large corporations and suppliers, and meets corporations' specific reporting requirements. Suppliers will benefit from an enhanced link to their corporate customers that can incorporate video, audio and 3-D product images, and the ability to easily and quickly change catalog items (such as price discounts), which leads to improved customer service.

Abrams noted that, from the financial-institution perspective, the system's use of the MasterCard Corporate Purchasing Card will expand the scope of the purchasing market. Also, those financial institutions that act as shopping malls will see new revenue streams.

"When MasterCard launched the purchasing card in 1993, it provided corporations with a way to streamline the cumbersome paper-based purchasing process and reduce their costs," said Abrams. "We've been very successful. Our Corporate Purchasing Card is used by a significant number of the 'Fortune 500' companies today. Now, the consortium is developing a system that is singularly unique in the marketplace, leveraging MasterCard's payment-processing capabilities with Actra's Internet client software and server technology, to capitalize on the global reach of the Internet."

MasterCard International, a payments company with one of the world's most recognized brands, is dedicated to helping more than 22,000 financial institutions around the world offer consumers a variety of payment options. MasterCard remains focused on helping shape the future of money by expanding acceptance of its global brands (MasterCard (R), Maestro(R) and Cirrus(R), the world's largest ATM network) and maintaining reliable, secure networks facilitating global value exchange. MasterCard has nearly 370 million credit and debit cards that are accepted at more than 13 million acceptance locations worldwide. In 1995, gross dollar volume generated was almost $500 billion. MasterCard can be reached at

Actra Business Systems, a joint venture between Netscape and GE Information Services, is developing business-to-business electronic commerce products for the Internet and intranets. To be sold through channel partners, these products are aimed at reducing costs, decreasing cycle times, and improving quality in core business functions. Initial product development is focused on two key areas: a business document gateway to facilitate the exchange of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and other data objects between a business and its trading partners, and a suite of server software products for purchasing and supplier management. Actra Business Systems can be reached at

Netscape Communications Corp. is a leading provider of open software for linking people and information over enterprise networks and the Internet. The company offers a full line of clients, servers, development tools, and commercial applications to create a complete platform for next-generation, live on-line applications. Traded on NASDAQ under the symbol NSCP, Netscape Communications Corp. is based in Mountain View, CA.

GE Information Services is a leading supplier of business productivity solutions, combining electronic commerce services, inter-business consulting, GE best practices, and trading community management. GE Information Services supports a worldwide trading community of more than 40,000 companies, helping them improve their purchasing/supplier productivity, logistics productivity, and marketing and sales productivity. GE Information Services is one of the 12 key businesses of the General Electric Company, USA, and is headquartered in Rockville, MD, USA. GE Information Services can be reached at



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