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February 15, 1996

Visa and Microsoft Plan Home Banking System

By PETER H. LEWIS

Visa International and Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday that they had agreed to work together to offer a complete system for home banking and bill-paying services.

The system, which would be based on Microsoft's Money software and Visa's extensive financial processing systems, was seen by analysts as a two-fisted blow against Intuit Inc., which competes against both Microsoft and Visa.

The alliance, which was reported by The American Banker on Wednesday, is subject to the approval of Visa's board.

"It means Microsoft Money is going to have a much stronger presence than Quicken," Intuit's popular personal financial program, said Phoebe Simpson, an analyst with Jupiter Communications in New York.

She also said that the alliance might challenge Intuit Services Corp. -- Intuit's back-end financial transaction system -- "as processing choice for banks interested in home banking and electronic bill payment."

Intuit, based in Menlo Park, Calif., was to have merged with Microsoft last year, and Microsoft tried to replace its own Money personal finance program with Intuit's Quicken, which is used by an estimated 13 million owners of personal computers. But Mcrosoft called off the merger after the Justice Department began investigating its antitrust concerns.

Microsoft, however, continues to use Intuit Services to handle banking and bill paying by its Microsoft Money customers. The Intuit subsidiary, based in Chicago, also handles electronic transactions for Quicken customers.

Rich Bray, product manager for Microsoft's personal finance products, said that the alliance with Visa now gives banks a choice for choosing transaction processing for Money software. He said that Intuit and Microsoft would continue to work together to serve the more than 20 banks, including Chase Manhattan and Chemical in New York, that now offer home banking and bill-paying services to their customers based on the Microsoft-Intuit tandem.

But analysts said Intuit had never really managed to gain the trust and support of banks, at least not to the level that Visa, with 19,000 client banks, has achieved.

Visa has an extensive array of home banking and electronic bill-paying services in development, created by its Visa Interactive subsidiary in Herndon, Va.

"This announcement further legitimizes home banking," said Gary Arlen, president of Arlen Communications of Bethesda, Md.


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