Intuit, makers of Quicken and QuickBooks, is making its popular online personal finance service Mint available to financial institutions. As Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite Group, told American Banker, "I'm surprised it took so long".
Indeed, you could see this move coming at least three years ago when Aaron Patzer, Mint's founder and then Intuit VP and GM of personal finance said, "Quicken Online will be going away, and we'll be migrating to Mint". At the time, he also suggested that Intuit "will have desktop products for at least another five years, simply due to comfort level more than anything else". We're two years away from that deadline. Could this be the first step to putting an end to desktop Quicken?
That would be premature.
But for now, Greg Wright, vice president of product management at Intuit Financial Services, said in a statement that "more than 12 million people already use Mint.com to manage their complete financial picture, and have identified savings of more than $30 billion toward their personal goals. By blending Mint with their digital banking home page, financial institutions can provide immediate, meaningful financial insights to their customers, help more people save money, and further deepen banking relationships by recommending relevant financial products at the time when people are most interested."
Intuit argues that the new Mint offering will help financial institutions position themselves as trusted advisors, improving their customers' financial lives. Specifically, its features, which its non-bank branded version already includes, are:
Showing customers their entire financial picture in one place: Automatically organizes spending from more than 19,000 financial accounts into categories and shows where money is going with easy-to-understand charts
Offering free actionable advice on how to save money: Delivers personalized alerts and insights based on individual transactional behavior, financial habits, and goals
Providing on-the-go tracking with mobile apps: Provides an award-winning mobile experience that gives customers the big picture view and dollar-and-cent details of their money on their iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets
Suggesting helpful products and services: Alerts customers to relevant products and services from their financial institution that are specific to their situation at a time when they are most interested in learning more.
Intuit's move is also meant to help banks with their marketing. Wright continued, "Mint is more than just online pie charts. It's an easy way for banks to provide valuable advice and services based on a customer's specific needs and use of financial products, all in the place millions of people look for help."
To me, if you add in Intuit's other recent online service moves, such as QuickBooks Online for iPad; the hook-up between TurboTax and local accountants; and its promotion of QuickBooks Online. it's clear that Intuit, one of the last major pure desktop software program players, is getting ready to move its product line once and for all to the cloud. Mint, with its easy-to-use web interface, free price-tag, and compatibility with all platforms, may well be Intuit's future and Quicken's successor.
Why not? After all, three out of four Intuit customers are already using Intuit's online services.