Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Chase's Web-Building Tools Give Small Business Sites an "Edge"

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

Chase's Web-Building Tools Give Small Business Sites an "Edge"

Article excerpt

The small and medium-sized business customers of Chase Merchant Services had a problem, but it wasn't strictly about banking. Their predicament concerned websites: how to get them up, looking smart, and processing payments, without exposing the less-than-large merchant to unnecessary risk. A toolkit called eWEBuilder was the solution.

The need for a turnkey internet product came up anecdotally, and was later supported by comments from some focus groups that the division ran with key customers. "These are talented and energetic people who clearly see the value of getting online," says Diane Vogt, chief executive officer of Chase Merchant Services. "Yet they were frustrated with the experience of putting a [transactional] website together, or even learning about how to get started." Because the typical small business doesn't have in-house IT expertise, says Vogt, all the tough infrastructure decisions are left to already overburdened business owners.

To remove all that uncertainty, Chase decided to find a technology partner and build a turnkey product packed with goof-proof tools to help business customers build their own sites with ease. "We wanted a soup-to-nuts solution," says Vogt. "Business owners want to get their websites up and running quickly," she adds. "Depending on the complexity of a site, development with a more piecemeal approach tends to languish."

To illustrate how daunting it was to even research the issue, Vogt pointed out that she discovered at least 38 known vendors in the internet payments "gateway" market alone. (Gateway technology makes standard payment methods web-capable.) Add to that the stress of learning such "geeky" stuff as bandwidth requirements, network architecture, or more ethereal concerns such as site design, and you have a potentially unmanageable project in the making.

Although the bank hadn't delved into offering products of this type for resale before, the market was signaling a need that couldn't be ignored.

Where did such a venture fit into the bank's overall online strategy? Michael Crositto, senior vice-president of marketing and e-commerce business development says: "We figured [e-services] would be logical extensions of the payment processing services we traditionally offered." eWEBuilder is a customized version of a platform that e-commerce vendor Kinzan, Carlsbad, Calif., released in 1999. It supports website construction, with capabilities like domain name registration, online payment setup, and traffic and sales reporting tools. Crositto says that Kinzan fit its stringent criteria for vendors. In fact, the tech vendor does much of the heavy lifting with technology implementation and support, handling hosting and ongoing refinements. For instance, the development team at Kinzan recently wrote code to support a list of "metatags" that small merchants can add to their website (without having a knowledge of the html language) that lets them be "found" by major search engines--a big marketing plus and essent ial to online success. …

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