Magazine article American Banker

Intuit, Microsoft Bury the Hatchet - but Just in Back-Office Processing

Magazine article American Banker

Intuit, Microsoft Bury the Hatchet - but Just in Back-Office Processing

Article excerpt

Intuit Inc. and Microsoft Corp., archrivals for the business of home banking providers and their customers, have renewed their friendship in a back-office aspect of the business.

Even as their competition in personal finance software heats up, Microsoft agreed to allow an Intuit subsidiary to continue processing banking transactions and bill payments emanating from Microsoft's Money software.

The companies described the contract Tuesday as an "expanded multiyear agreement," building on one that dates back to the Intuit unit's early involvement in developing a Money-based banking service.

The deal underscores how quickly the sands can shift in the on-line services market, blurring the distinctions between companies that may compete in one area and cooperate in another.

Microsoft, playing catch-up to Intuit's best-selling Quicken software, has been aggressively promoting what it terms an open, flexible approach to banking relationships.

Intuit has responded with BankNow, a personal computer service soon to be released on America Online, and by allowing connections through bank data processing organizations.

The rivals had a common interest in transaction processing. Intuit Services Co. - National Payment Clearinghouse before Intuit acquired it in 1994 - was the first and for a time the only back-office utility for both Money- and Quicken-based banking services.

The Intuit-Microsoft relationship was renewed at a time when banks have other processing alternatives, including a joint venture of Microsoft and Visa. But the deal apparently ensures Intuit services can continue as the "one-stop shop" that it says many banks want.

"This is exactly what we were established to do," said Tom Daniel, president of the Downers Grove, Ill.-based subsidiary of Intuit. "We allow banks to have a single point of contact and to provide multiple front ends into our system, whether it is America Online or Microsoft Money, Quicken or future products.

"To financial institutions, this sends a message that Intuit Services will be a viable player for a long time to come."

"This keeps Intuit in the game," said Gary Arlen, a Bethesda, Md. …

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