Meca Software LLC is challenging banks to give consumers what they want - including financial information from other institutions-with Internet banking software it is introducing next month.

MoneyScape software, developed over 18 months, would let customers download data from multiple institutions.

Institutions offering MoneyScape, which is based on Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java programming language, could accomplish this by forging relationships with other financial services providers determined to be "best of breed." Or they could take advantage of the capabilities of the Open Financial Exchange, or OFX, standard to retrieve financial data directly from other institutions that support the standard.

David Yockelson, vice president and director of the research firm Meta Group, said on-line banks should take full advantage.

Meca "is trying to give banks a role in making their brands electronic, in being their own portals, and retaining control of the interaction with their customers," said Mr. Yockelson. "It's a neat capability, assuming that banks will actually link in to other banks' systems."

Customers wanting shared financial information would give their primary institution's account details for setting up the customized service. Related information such as charts, tips, news alerts, and stock tickers could be added.

Updates would automatically be downloaded to customer PCs from the primary bank's server. Future releases will allow portfolio management.

Meca, co-owned by five banking companies and an insurer, had been focused on its PC-based personal financial management software, Managing Your Money. An undisclosed top-10 bank, which is not a Meca owner, has been working to deploy MoneyScape along with the Trumbull, Conn.-based Meca and its development partners, Sun Microsystems, Marimba Inc., and Oracle Corp., said Paul Harrison, Meca's president and chief executive officer.

MoneyScape will be beta-tested by several banks in December and go live with customers in the first quarter, said Mr. Harrison.

"We've taken the best attributes of the Internet and the best attributes of consumer software and merged them into something very compelling," he said.

"MoneyScape is a thinned-down version of what Intuit with Quicken and Microsoft with MoneyCentral are doing," said David Weisman, group director of research at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

Meca differs from Intuit Inc. and Microsoft Corp.-Meca's larger rivals in personal financial software-in that it is selling directly to financial institutions, not consumers.

Home banking software companies like Edify Corp., Security First Technologies Inc., and Home Financial Network Inc. are building Web-based personal financial management capabilities, as well, Mr. Weisman said. "Meca is moving in the right direction. Others don't have the depth of analysis and the data integration tools that the folks at Meca have."

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