MasterCard International has introduced Windows-based software designed to generate a wide range of reports for businesses that use its purchasing card.

The New York-based card association predicted that its Smart Data for Windows would transform the way business expenditures of less than $100,000 are made and reported.

MasterCard said U.S. companies spend $331 billion a year on such "small" purchases.

Steven L. Abrams, senior vice president for commercial products, said the software transforms an "expensive, paper-based system" into an "electronic, systems-based process."

Companies using it "can organize, sort, and arrange critical information at the click of a mouse or with a few simple keystrokes," he said.

MasterCard said the Smart Data software can trim or eliminate many transaction costs while giving businesses quick access to information about where their money is going.

Users can modify information fields and add information not captured at the time of the transaction. Data from existing internal systems, such as a preferred supplier database, can be integrated into the program.

Employees can retrieve such transaction information as accounting codes, sales tax, and supplier information. The data are stored in MasterCard's mainframe computer and sent to the user company's password-protected mailbox.

Using a modem, the company's authorized users then can retrieve updates on purchasing activity at daily, weekly, or monthly intervals.

Participating companies can choose from a variety of report options on the transactions. A general ledger mapping option enables a company to develop a customized scheme for identifying and allocating purchasing activity within the organization.

Smart Data for Windows is available to companies exclusively through the 24 financial institutions issuing the MasterCard purchasing card. It is expected to be incorporated into other MasterCard commercial card products in the future.

MasterCard introduced its purchasing card program in August 1993. Companies can limit use of the cards to certain employees and apply several acceptance and authorization-control mechanisms, such as daily or monthly spending limits.

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