Intuit Inc. said 1,900 financial institutions that get processing services from Electronic Payment Services Inc. and M&I Data Services Inc. will be able to offer Intuit's home banking system at favorable "group rates."
Seeking to distribute its personal-computer banking service through more than just an elite few dozen financial institutions, Intuit will charge the network participants one-fifth the initiation fee that larger banks pay to work directly with Intuit, said Paul H. Weston, director of alternative delivery services for Electronic Payment Services.
Mr. Weston's company, based in Wilmington, Del., operates MAC, one of the largest automated teller machine networks.
Milwaukee-based M&I Data, a subsidiary of Marshall & Ilsley Corp., is a leading data-processing service bureau for banks.
"This is a reaction to the marketplace," said Kirk D. Dauksavage, vice president for marketing at the Intuit Services Corp. subsidiary in Downers Grove, Ill. "We constantly get calls from smaller institutions that want to participate."
Intuit - which makes the market-leading personal finance software called Quicken - has been making banks use Intuit Services for payment processing.
Microsoft Money and other financial software products had the reputation of permitting a more flexible set of processing options.
The group-rate offer will help Intuit counter arguments that it is "trying to control the market and exclude other players," said analyst Phoebe Simpson of Jupiter Communications Co. in New York.
Intuit had been negotiating the arrangement with EPS for almost two months, Mr. Weston said.
Intuit said it can offer services through M&I and EPS at a discount because the arrangements do not require Intuit to establish direct links with each bank that uses the service.
"Developing interfaces with banks is a fairly exhausting process," added Alfred S. Dominick Jr., executive vice president of M&I's retail products delivery group.
The service should be available in October - about the same time as a new release of Quicken. Intuit executives said bank branding of Quicken- based services will operate the same as it does for the 38 banks with direct links to Intuit.
However, Intuit said those with direct links will be able to provide real-time transactions to their customers, while banks running through EPS and M&I will be processed in end-of-day batches.
Separately, $73.9 billion Norwest Corp. announced it would provide home banking services through Intuit Services for both the Quicken and Microsoft Money software packages.
Customers banking with Norwest in Minneapolis and St. Paul soon will be able to download information about their Norwest accounts, schedule bill payments using their computer, and send E-mail to Norwest.