Banks once feared Microsoft simply because its Money software threatened to disintermediate their customers. Now that Microsoft and Intuit have each introduced "Web-enabled" personal finance management strategies for 1998, sources argue that banks really have something to worry about.

Building on their mastery of the customer interface, Microsoft and Intuit are developing content that industry observers say, in effect, marginalizes the financial transaction. Seizing the opportunity to provide customers with financial information and more convenient ways to comparison shop for services, these two companies' Web-enabled software offers consumers regularly updated news, expert opinion and interactive programming so that they can make informed financial decisions.

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