CUNA Mutual Group, an insurance agent for credit unions, is negotiating a deal to sell home banking products from CFI ProServices Inc.

Under the prospective agreement, CUNA Mutual Group, once an offshoot of the Credit Union National Association, would promote CFI's remote banking products, which provide the connection for customers to access their accounts.

This deal is in reaction to a growing interest in electronic banking - even among some of the nation's smallest financial institutions. But, according to Peter Patau, a spokesman for the CUNA Mutual Group, dozens of credit unions have already embarked on remote banking plans of their own.

"Credit unions have always served their members remotely," said Bill Batstone, an assistant vice president for CUNA Mutual.

CFI focused its home banking efforts on credit unions and is only now starting to aggressively pursue business from banks.

Credit unions' historical reliance on phone and mail contact and their heavy use of minicomputers make them a good fit for the new remote banking technologies, according to Matt Chapman, the chief executive officer of CFI.

On the home banking front, CFI has worked predominantly with credit unions. About 70 of its 80 customers in the field are credit unions, Mr. Chapman said.

Only four banks, including Commerce Bank of New Jersey, are using CFI's home banking products. Also, CFI sells compliance and leading software, which dovetails neatly with the remote banking services that credit unions want to offer.

This new agreement with CUNA Mutual could open up many new opportunities for the small software company.

"The banking market is now receptive to electronic banking, but that's only really happened in the last six months," Mr. Chapman said, adding that more than half of the credit union customers have signed on since the beginning of this year.

His answer to what started the recent home banking frenzy?

One word: "Microsoft."

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