Microsoft Corp. is going three for three.
In the past three business days, three more banks - CoreStates Financial Corp., First Interstate Bancorp, and Sanwa Bank of California - have announced they will enter the software company's rapidly growing fold of on-line financial service providers.
CoreStates, First Interstate, and Sanwa joined three others - Bank of Boston Corp., Chemical Banking Corp., and Centura Banks Inc. - that in the past two weeks had similarly committed themselves to offer customers on- line access to their accounts this fall through Microsoft's Money software.
Before the recent flurry of announcements, only four banks were publicly working with Microsoft to provide PC-based home banking services.
News on the Money front was sparse until recently, and Microsoft had signed up no new banks for its home banking program in more than eight months. Most of the new Money banks say they had been in talks with Microsoft during that time, even for as long as a year.
But the software giant was itself embroiled in efforts to acquire competitor Intuit Inc., maker of the market-leading Quicken - a deal it aborted in late May in the face of Justice Department questions on anti- trust issues.
Not too surprisingly, Intuit announced Friday a laundry list of banking and financial service luminaries that will be using its Quicken software for on-line banking.
"The whole landscape of banking with PCs has changed so much in the past year or so," said Les Ridel, a vice president and manager for planning and information services at CoreStates, which will be offering on-line banking through both Money and Quicken. "We saw this as being an opportune time."
Some industry insiders point to overwhelming pressure on banks to act. They face the threat of losing potential market share and on-line service revenues to nonbanks like Microsoft.
But the banks say the recent buzz is primarily tied to Microsoft's media blitz for the launching this fall of its new version of Money, dubbed Money for Windows 95.
The new Money software is said to improve greatly on previous editions, with a more user-friendly multimedia look and feel, as well as heightened bank branding, said Matt Cone, a product manager at Microsoft.