Freeserve, Barclays Warm Up to Small Businesses

Freeserve and Barclays Monday agreed to co-create a
small business portal which will combine Freeserve’s portal and Barclays’
consumer financial site.

Freeserve (FREE)
will hold 60 percent of the company while Barclays with control the
remaining 40 percent. The venture is nodding to Barclay to woo its 750,000
small businesses/small office clients into the online venture, as well a tap
to Freeserve’s ISP customer base.

The venture’s launch date is set for May, though a name for the new entity
has not been released. Both company’s sites will promote the new company.

Through the deal, a co-branded version of the Freeserve portal would be
developed for ISP users.

The portal features will include communications products and community
tools; business advice ranging from marketing to e-commerce to tax
information; online access to Barclays account information; and e-commerce
offerings. Freeserve’s Marketplace will offer users site building tools and
other e-commerce solutions and support.

“Barclays is already the UK’s largest Internet bank. Last week we announced
Barclays in the corporate market,” said John Varley, chief
executive, retail financial services at Barclays. “With Freeserve we now
intend to set the pace in the small business marketplace.”

Varley also claimed that one in five small business banking customers
already uses Barclays’ online services.

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