Wells Fargo & Co. and 31 community banks and credit unions announced that their customers will be able to download account information from the Internet with the click of a button.
The technology is one of the first uses of Microsoft Corp.'s set of standards for electronic financial connections, which were introduced last March.
Called Active Statement Technology, advocates say that it will simplify the process of transferring account files from the World Wide Web to personal financial software programs.
Making data on Web sites easier to download is likely to encourage banking customers to go to the sites, industry observers said. That, in turn, would offer banks more chance to promote their services on the Internet.
"Today we offer both our Quicken and our Microsoft Money customers the ability to download information into their software spreadsheets," said Wells Fargo spokeswoman Janet Otsuki. But the features of Microsoft's new technology "will allow Money customers to have a more direct and more efficient downloading experience."
The benefits of that arrangement are hardly accidental from the standpoint of Microsoft, which has been aggressively battling Intuit Inc. for a greater share of the personal financial software market. Intuit's Quicken leads Money by 75% to 20%, according to a recent independent consumer study.
Microsoft offers its technology for free to all financial institutions, and it encourages banks to link their Web sites so that their customers will find a trial offer for the Money product.
Competing Web browsers will be able to download financial data, but …