Commerce Bank of Cherry Hill, N.J., is offering its own home banking program via personal computer.

The bank, a unit of $2.3 billon-asset Commerce Bancorp, announced last week that it would give customers access to their accounts using software provided free by the bank.

Commerce worked with bank technology vendor CFI ProServices Inc. to develop the software, which allows customers to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, order checks, and stop payments.

Unlike many large banks - which have centered their PC-based initiatives on popular brands of personal finance software like Quicken and Money - Commerce has set up its own independent service that does not require other front-end software. Commerce On-Line, which the bank bills as "the most economical home banking product on the market," offers a free connection to the bank and unlimited bill payment for $5 per month.

In addition, the bank said that all the transactions conducted on this service are recorded immediately, rather than once a day as with other services.

A more novel twist: The Commerce service lets people manage their finances even on old and seemingly outdated computer systems - like the Tandy TRS 80 or the Commodore 64. Most conventional home banking software operates solely on Windows, Macintosh, or occasionally DOS-based machines.

David Flaherty, a spokesman for the bank, said there has been "a great amount of interest" from customers since the program was launched last week. He added that this approach underscores the bank's desire to reach customers directly rather than work through intermediaries such as software companies or major on-line services.

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