RBS and NatWEst have joined forces in a new project called Bizcrowd, intended to create a “community” of small and medium enterprises in the UK. The core of Bizcrowd will be a series of product or service-linked “noticeboards,” where site-registered businesses can post a need or offer themselves as a supplier.
Finextra quotes Chris Sullivan, CEO, corporate banking, RBS & NatWest, as explaining:
“It has always been the role of the bank manager to connect British businesses to one another, now we’re extending that support online. We hope Bizcrowd helps as many SMEs as possible raise their profile and win new business.”
Companies need not be customers of either bank; all small or medium UK-based businesses are welcomed to sign up for the free service. The banks will not vet any of the offering suppliers, but the site does provide a mechanism for buyer feedback after the fact, to allow businesses to develop an online reputation. The site is expected to have a significant participation from sole practitioners or small firms in professional B2B practices such as law.
The launch was officially announced in late November 2012 with a few businesses pre-registered. Additional social media links have been established on LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter. Only time will tell if the banks are able to stimulate the network effects necessary to build volume, especially since the information service only triggers introductions, and makes no attempt to facilitate transactions via services such as e-procurement or e-invoicing.
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