Microsoft Corp., pressing on with its ambitious electronic financial efforts, has enlisted at least one major bank and one large financial services firm for its new on-line service.
Chase Manhattan Corp., a partner in Microsoft's on-line banking program, announced last week that it would offer financial services through Money to Microsoft Network users. Chase, which joined the Microsoft on-line banking program in October, is the first bank to provide content for the network.
In a related announcement, Charles Schwab & Co. said that it would set up its own information site on Microsoft's on-line service. Schwab Online will provide investing, interactive financial planning, and information about the financial service giant's products and services.
The Microsoft Network is the software maker's answer to other popular on-line services such as America Online, Compuserve, and Prodigy. It is being bundled with the much-hyped Windows 95 operating system, which was launched Thursday and is expected to quickly lure hundreds of thousands of on-line users.
Banks and nonbank financial service companies are increasingly broadening their plans to reach out to customers via computer networks. A few are starting to approach on-line services - which offer information, entertainment, electronic "chat" groups, and access to the larger realm of the Internet. Financial institutions and service companies see this as a prime area for advertising as well as a medium through which consumers can handle basic banking needs or conduct transactions.
BankAmerica Corp. and First Chicago Corp. both recently announced that they would set up sites on America Online, where they could market products and services. Indeed, BankAmerica said it intends to soon expand the site once it goes live by yearend to encompass purchasing and banking options.