Microsoft Corp. has defused bankers' hostility over the last year. The software giant denied it wanted to become a bank or profit through the creation of transaction "tollways," and it offered its Open Financial Connectivity, or OFC, standard as a sign of public-spirited support for on- line banking and commerce.

Bankers' wariness didn't disappear entirely, however. The Bankers Roundtable's Banking Industry Technology Secretariat vowed to keep its eye on Microsoft and any other high-impact purveyor. A paper circulated last year by Microsoft antagonist Sun Microsystems Inc. may have been influential in sustaining the vigilance.

FutureBanking got hold of the document, prepared by Sun distinguished engineer Sheueling Chang. It warned that Microsoft could use OFC "to control all aspects of the pipeline between financial institutions and their customers,... stifle competition, and limit the ability of banks to participate fully in the future of electronic banking."

Raising the toll-collection specter, Ms. Chang said Microsoft could "come to dominate the financial services world the way it has dominated desktop computing... Banks should treat with skepticism any promise of a truly 'open' solution."

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