Microsoft Corp. said its Money 98 personal finance software can download transaction information for American Express, Discover Card, and Private Issue Card customers.

American Express and the two Novus Services brands join 37 Visa and MasterCard issuers in making transaction data available directly to personal computers loaded with Money 98.

American Express, Discover, and Private Issue account holders may obtain the same information over the Internet.

The connections to American Express Co. and the Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Discover & Co. units rely on Open Financial Connectivity, a technical specification used by Microsoft before the company joined rivals Intuit Inc. and Checkfree Corp. in endorsing a joint protocol called OFX, or Open Financial Exchange.

Also announcing OFX compatibility was E-Trade Group, the on-line brokerage service. Account positions, transactions, and balances can automatically be entered into the latest versions of the personal financial management packages. Customers "no longer have to painstakingly enter data one item at a time," said E-Trade president Christos Cotsakos.

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