Microsoft Corp. said last week it discovered a minor glitch in an on- line bill-payment component of the new version of Money personal finance software.
The flaw caused bill payments to be delayed, because the software - which lets bill payment customers set the timetable for when certain bills are to be paid - mistakenly identified all payment recipients as four-day payees.
The fault stems from a miscommunication between the Money software and Intuit Services Corp., the bill payment processor that handles the payments on the back end, according to Richard Bray, a Microsoft product manager.
This problem affects only a small fraction of bank customers who use the Money on-line to access their accounts. The latest version of Microsoft's software - Money for Windows 95 - was released only in late August and is being used by far fewer people than the previous release, Money 3.0. Microsoft executives said less than 10% of Money users use the bill payment feature.
Linda Parker, a vice president for retail delivery at U.S. Bancorp, said that of the bank's 5,900 customers using Money on-line, fewer than 25 would be affected by the problem.
Close to 20 banks are preparing to roll out on-line banking services through both Money and rival Intuit Inc.'s Quicken within the next month. This jumpstart is expected to multiply the number of bill payment customers Intuit Services handles by 20 to 25 times, according to the payment processor's chief executive Bruce Burchfield.
Ms. Parker of U.S. Bancorp, who tested both sets of software rigorously for more than four months, said she had "no concerns" that the current problems would become amplified over time.
Adam Schoenfeld, an analyst for Jupiter Communications Inc., a New York- based consulting firm, said the glitch was "very minor" in the scheme of things.
"There's inevitably going to be some growing pains," he said, "but as long as they can limit it to this, it'll be okay."