Plunging into a suddenly crowded home banking pool, Visa International and several large banks announced they are working with the maker of a big-selling financial software package for personal computers.

Banc One Corp., Well Fargo & Co., First Bank System Inc., Meridian Bancorp, and First National Bank of Omaha have committed to launching next year the Visa home banking service based on Intuit Inc.'s Quicken software.

The service will enable consumers to pay bills, receive statements, and transfer funds electronically via their modern-equipped PC.

The announcement expands upon an agreement reached between the card association and Intuit earlier this year whereby Visa members could transmit credit card and debit card data to Quicken users.

Concept Getting Second Chance

It also comes on the heels of a raft of projects unveiled this year by financial institutions and technology companies seeking to offer home banking services to consumers, a business that failed to catch on when a number of big banks introduced it in the mid-1980s.

The renewed efforts include that of Visa rival MasterCard International, which announced last spring a similar PC-based service called MasterBanking. Signet Banking Corp. already is offering MasterBanking to its customers. MasterCard also processes transactions for Columbus, Ohio-based Checkfree Corp., which sells bill payment software directly to consumers.

Last month, First Chicago Corp., Michigan National Corp., and U.S. Bancorp said they were working with Microsoft Corp. to offer home banking systems that use the software giant's own PC-based personal financial software.

Taking a slightly different tack, Citicorp and NationsBank Corp., are looking to offer home banking services via computerized telephones.

And Banc One, by joining the Visa/Intuit effort, augments an already full plate of electronic options for consumers: the bank already offers services via the Prodigy information network, and is testing "smart" telephones from Online Communications Inc.

Commenting on the flood of electronic banking projects, Intuit chief executive Scott Cook said, "It's sort of like the beginning of the credit card business, where everyone jumps in with their own brand." But working with Visa, "we have access to an infrastructure that immediately connects us with thousands of banks to give [home banking] the critical mass to succeed."

Favorable Customer Response

Visa group president Scott Loftesness said after the initial agreement with Intuit last May discussion with Visa members convinced the association to expand the relationship. "Members reinforced the idea of offering bill payment, and secondly to provide consumers links to their [deposit] systems."

Mr. Loftneses the card association will give its members the ability to customize their own branded home banking offerings and set their own pricing.

While acknowledging the home banking business is getting more competitive, Glen Santmire, senior vice president for MasterCard's home banking operation, said the recent moves by Visa and Microsoft are "a validation there is really a market opportunity" for home banking.

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