A bank, a major payment processor, and a software company announced plans to adopt Microsoft Corp.'s specifications for home banking payment processing.

Microsoft unveiled its "open financial connectivity" specifications earlier this week in an effort to make it easier for financial institutions to use its personal finance software, known as Money, in home banking programs.

The processor - Checkfree Corp. of Columbus, Ohio - faces serious competition from Intuit Services Corp. of Downers Grove, Ill., which until recently was the lone processor of home banking transactions coming through Microsoft Money. Checkfree expects to be able to process Money-based bill payment transactions by summer.

The bank - PNC Bank Corp., based in Pittsburgh - is working with Checkfree to deliver a home banking product that uses the new specifications. PNC officials expect to have a product ready in the third quarter. They noted the bank's planned work with Checkfree is an extension of an agreement between PNC and Servantis Systems Inc., which Checkfree is acquiring.

The software provider - Portland, Ore.-based CFI Proservices Inc. - said it would develop an interface between its proprietary home banking software, Personal Branch, and Money. This would let CFI's 108 customers, most of which are credit unions, offer services through Money to consumers.

Executives from the companies embracing Microsoft's new specifications said demand from financial institutions for more options in home banking is leading to increased competition among service providers and software vendors.

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