After 18 months of development and testing, Interactive Transaction Partners says it is about launch a marketing push for its home banking products.

ITP, a joint venture of Electronic Data Systems Corp., US West, and France Telecom, was set up to create an independent platform for remote banking and bill payment services.

The venture has been building interactive services and working out kinks through testing in some banks. But with competition heating up in home banking, ITP now plans to move beyond testing.

The venture has "shifted gears into implementation," said Joe Brownsted, managing director.

ITP's platform is meant to let bank customers work with their accounts via touch-tone telephone, personal computer, or screen phone.

So far ITP has signed up only 10 financial institutions, including Salem Five Cents Savings Bank, Mesa County Teachers Federal Credit Union, the EDS Employee Credit Union, and a unit of Comerica Inc.

Massachusetts-based Salem Five will probably be the first institution to offer ITP services to all customers. It plans to do so sometime in the next couple of months.

Comerica will probably start its own rollout by August or September, Mr. Brownsted said.

Some institutions, like Salem Five, will offer only select services. Salem will offer touch-tone and PC-based banking.

Others, like Comerica, intend to offer the whole electronic-services smorgasbord in different regions.

The departure in November of ITP's president and chief visionary, J. Randall Peyser - who conceived, developed, and negotiated ITP into existence - seemed to signal this shift to the next phase of operation.

Mr. Peyser, who had worked in EDS' electronic commerce division before the founding of ITP, moved back to the General Motors Corp. subsidiary in November to work on strategic planning in the large financial institutions arena. In March, he took a vice president's post at MasterCard International's MasterBanking unit.

While Mr. Peyser's strategy and vision set ITP on its current path in home banking services, his replacement, Mr. Brownsted, is now guiding the enterprise along a course that he hopes will place it in the center of the emerging home banking market.

Given the current pace in the race to electronic bank service supremacy - with Microsoft Corp. bidding to buy personal finance software leader Intuit Inc. and BankAmerica Corp. and NationsBank Corp. pairing up to buy Meca Software, maker of rival Managing Your Money - ITP's move toward more aggressive promotion is probably wise.

But Mr. Brownsted indicated that ITP plans to steer clear of the publicity storm swirling around home banking.

"We ought to have a hype-o-meter on this industry," he said.

As part of its positioning, ITP is working to align itself with several makers of consumer finance software. It is already integrating Meca's Managing Your Money to its platform, and it plans to do the same with Computer Associates International Inc.'s Simply Money and others.

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