Propelling credit card accounts onto the information superhighway, Block Financial Corp. is allowing holders of the cobranded Compuserve Visa card to view their transaction activity on their personal computer screens.
Block said the service, called the Conductor Card Review, is the first national on-line transaction review service for credit cards. It is likely to be offered to other cardholders, but for now it is available only for Compuserve Visa cards, issued by Columbus Bank and Trust of Columbus, Ga.
Block Financial, which offers the Managing Your Money personal finance software, and the Compuserve on-line computer network are subsidiaries of H&R Block, the income tax specialists.
William P. Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Block Financial, said, "We're interested in selling the on-line service to banks as an enhancement to their credit card programs."
The Conductor Card Review, free for all 2.3 million Compuserve subscribers but useful only to the 40,000 Compuserve Visa customers, provides 24-hour access to the month's transactions.
Unlike similar tracking services, records are updated every 24 hours.
Block Financial will also provide free software that will enable consumers to download their records into any financial software package, including Managing Your Money or the Quicken product of Intuit Inc., Block's main competitor.
Intuit offers a monthly card review service for its IntelliCharge Visa cardholders. A monthly statement is available on diskette or downloaded from Compuserve, but the cardholder would not get up-to-date on-line information on balances, interest charges, and transactions.
Mr. Anderson said what the Conductor offers would be a boon to all card programs.
"If consumers think they can access their credit card balance, they will be induced to use that card to exclusion of others," said Mr. Anderson.
Through market research with Compuserve users, Block Financial found that from a long list of enhancements, on-line account access was what they liked best, said Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Anderson said the company is ready to talk to banks immediately to deliver the service to cardholders. He would not disclose the price of the program, but said, "We believe a bank will more than pay for the cost [of the service] through increased usage."
Cardholders will benefit from having the information downloaded into their home systems, and will save the time involved in inputting and tracking the expenses for business or tax purposes.
Block Financial has separately moved to make Managing Your Money a part of PC-based banking programs. In recent weeks it has announced marketing alliances with Visa International's Visa Interactive unit and Interactive Transaction Partners, a joint venture of Electronic Data Systems Corp., U S West, and France Telecom.