The Electronic Market Ltd, a joint venture company set up between Scottish Widows and Phonelink Plc, is offering customers free electronic mail, reduced priced modems and personal computers, and an electronic postal service, as the launch of its electronic commerce service draws nearer. Mutual insurer Scottish Widows, Edinburgh joined forces with Prenton, Wirral-based on-line business information purveyor Phonelink last November (CI No 3039) to develop and market the Tel-Me electronic trading system, which will be launched in May. When it is up and running shoppers will have access to over 60,000 products initially, with the company talking to banks and supermarkets at the moment with a view to extending the service in the future. It has already secured a deal with catalog company Freeman’s and will also sell items such as books, compact disks and flowers. Electronic commerce has not taken off in the UK to any where near the degree that was first anticipated, but The Electronic Market is confident that it will prove a successful business. Marketing and sales director Kevin Duffy said: We saw the Internet explosion and really wanted to be part of it, but didn’t just want a Web page that would be hidden away somewhere, we see this as a more viable way to keep up with technology. He went on to say that the company is confident that electronic commerce is the way forward: We recognize that it is very much in its infancy but its going to be huge and we want to be part of it from the start, shaping it rather than becoming involved later. The company, based in Amersham, UK says there are no hidden catches in the free electronic mail service it is offering to customers from February 17. It regards it as a bonus for customers, who it is hoping will take advantage of the other services on offer, although there is no obligation to purchase on-line products if you sign up for any of the other services.