Merrill Lynch & Co. will become the fifth institution to participate in a pilot of electronic bill presentment with MSFDC, a joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and First Data Corp.

With the service, users of Merrill Lynch Online, who already pay their bills using the Internet, would also get bills, statements, and relatednotices electronically. Merrill Lynch joins KeyCorp, Norwest Corp., Banc One Corp., and Wells Fargo & Co. in piloting the service.

About 300,000 clients, a small share of the brokerage firm's customer base, are enrolled to use Merrill Lynch OnLine. The service, available to all clients with an asset management account, offers access to research reports, news, aggregate account statements, debit card transaction details, and securities tracking.

Merrill Lynch will begin its test late this year. MSFDC was formed last June. In addition to the five piloting institutions, it has attracted 11 billers to test its presentment program.

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