Fairfax, Va.--In a major boost to its sagging bottom line, WebMethods Inc. has entered an agreement with Bank of America Corp. to develop the financial services giant's corporate banking Web platform. The platform, aimed at BofA's most lucrative sectors, including corporate treasury, will allow the bank to market over the Internet at far cheaper rates than offline. It will also allow for straight-through processing, meaning the bank's b-to-b clients will be able to complete transactions entirely over the Internet. The news is a boon for WebMethods at a time when it dearly needs one. The signing of BofA, the nation's third-largest bank, comes several weeks after WebMethods announced it was to fire 160 employees, or 15% of its work force, because of a wider-than-expected fiscal first-quarter loss. The company, whose other Fortune 500 clients include Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Computer Corp., said it plans to break even or turn a profit by fourth quarter 2002. BofA, meanwhile, wants to move its offline b-to-b clients to the Internet, in a bid to cut costs over the long term. The bank, like its rivals Citigroup (another WebMethods client) and Wells Fargo & Co., is keen on marketing Internet-based services-especially to potential mid-market b-to-b clients-as a way to get customer service at levels similar to bigger clients. The deal underscores BofA's aggressive b-to-b marketing and development strategy, which has picked up steam in recent months, as some of its rivals have leveled off their initiatives due to the slowing economy. In May, the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank started a credit financing site; in March, it launched a foreign exchange trading platform with Bloomberg L.P.