More banks put down payment on Net

Barclays, Nomura, Alliance & Leicester - do they never learn?

Two announcements here. Barclays and Japanese bank Nomura are spending £30 million on a joint shopping portal in time for Christmas. And the Alliance & Leicester is launching a new small business service which it will run almost entirely over the Internet.

The Barclays/Nomura venture sees Barclays put in £20 million to Nomura's £10 million. The portal's name has not been released yet, but according to the PR, it will include over one million products from 50 retailers by Christmas and increase to five million products 12 months later.

The idea is that customers will use their Barclaycards and this will give them confidence in buying online - going up against a recent report by trading standards that said shopping online was not inefficient and potentially unsafe.

The new site will link to retailers' site rather than run it on its own and will use "advanced search technology" but then that's just PR guff.

Alliance & Leicester meanwhile has tried to reverse its recent decline by entering the "Internet space". To be honest, there isn't much meat here, all A&L has done is say it will launch this new Alliance Business Banking service with the Internet in mind - we've yet to get any detailed info. That said, A&L has spent a lot of money pulling the Internet into its current system so it isn't to be underestimated.

The thing is that its share price has taken a big knock recently and it needs to get investors more excited. Announcing an Internet "strategy" is a surefire way of buying some time. ®

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