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Windows on the Web
For all the hype, Internet commerce has never really achieved mainstream acceptance. But a recent agreement by the top players in the field could change all that. Early this year, Microsoft, Intuit and CheckFree announced joint plans to create a technical specification designed to enable financial institutions to exchange data over the Internet with users of personal finance software, such as Intuit's Quicken and Microsoft Money.
Dubbed Open Financial Exchange, the spec represents the convergence of Microsoft's Open Financial Connectivity, Intuit's OpenExchange and CheckFree's electronic banking and payment protocols. It's designed to ease the electronic commerce process by eliminating the rash of interfaces and API sets. The companies also joined forces with Visa Interactive to link Open Financial Exchange to Visa's own bill-paying system, known as ADMS.
The new spec should be a boon not just to personal finance software users, but to users of accounting, tax form preparation and personal investment programs, by providing access to an ever-wider array of bill payment, bill delivery and portfolio management services.