BOSTON-Think of it as bridging the chasm between the old and the new economies. That’s how the people at FleetBoston perceive the bank’s ongoing push into an increasing number of Internet markets. Carrying an estimated price tag of $100 million, the strategy has been dubbed e-Catalyst.

The biggest splashes came when the lender took the wraps off of its and Celeris services. The first, according to one company insider, is geared to bring commercial finance projects online. The second, a product of the Fleet Mortgage division, is designed to “help financial advisors originate mortgages and to supply other financial services as appropriate.” The Celeris operation is based in Columbia, SC.

“In the first quarter of this year,” the spokesperson tells, “we underwent a corporate-wide planning process in which every business line was evaluated for its E-preparedness. Included in the questions we asked were: when would the Internet reach absorption, and what point were we at then. We asked if each business line thought of itself as E-enabled and how virtual competition could challenge the success of our business.”

The products rolling out this year are a direct result of that initiative, the spokesperson notes, and there are more to come, although the details get sketchy here. “There are some products in the works, but nothing we can announce now,” she says. “The strategy is to enhance what we currently offer on the Internet by building products in house or aligning ourselves with leaders in the industry who can develop products for us.”

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