'

Intuit bolsters QuickBooks with new alternative lending program, SMB tools

Intuit says the updated suite of services builds upon the existing QuickBooks platform, but brings more capabilities for automatic data entry and platform connectivity.

Intuit is holding its QuickBooks Connect conference this week, which means the small business software maker has a bevy of product announcements aimed at bolstering its signature platform.

Notable among the news is Intuit's entrance into the alternative lending space. Similar the PayPal Working Capital and Square Capital services, Intuit plans to offer QuickBooks merchants the ability to apply for a small business loan based off of their QuickBooks data.

Intuit is partnering with OnDeck for the financing operations, as well as with FundBox to offer merchants advancements based on outstanding invoices.

For small businesses, Intuit is adding more tools for inventory and sales channel management. Intuit says the updated suite of services builds upon the existing QuickBooks platform, but brings more capabilities for automatic data entry and platform connectivity.

For instance, Intuit is rolling out a new bank feeds product that helps businesses import their banking and credit card transactions over to QuickBooks. Intuit says the product was designed to enable a range of financial institutions to create custom apps that can connect their customers' transactions to QuickBooks. American Express OPEN is the first app to leverage the new technology.

"This new bank feeds technology is all about leveraging the power of our platform to save small businesses time by automating the process of entering data into QuickBooks," said Avi Golan, VP and general manager of the Intuit Developer Group.

Speaking of developers, Intuit says it will double the funds invested by qualified developers in an effort to help app makers reach more of the businesses that run on the QuickBooks platform. To that end, Intuit is launching a new developer partner program that it says features more avenues for developer growth.

Intuit first launched a developer platform in 2001 and revamped it last year, so essentially this announcement is just another iteration. At the time of launch, the platform featured just 308 apps. It has since grown to more than 1,500, Intuit says.

For self-employed, Intuit is partnering with Stride Health in an effort to simplify tax planning and health insurance, the company said. The partnership integrates Stride Health's personalization and compliance technology into the QuickBooks Self-Employed platform, which first debuted in January. The platform can be used to connect financial accounts, track deductions and calculate taxes, as well as to organize comingled business and personal finances.

Overall, the new products and platform upgrades are not exactly groundbreaking, but they play to Inuit's strengths and help fill in some existing gaps throughout its platform. With the merchant financing option, for instance, Intuit is considerably late to the party. It's competitors have been building up similar programs for nearly two years, with PayPal recently reaching $1 billion in SMB loans.

During Intuit's fourth quarter earnings report in August, the company fell short of analyst expectations for revenue. At the time, the company also announced plans to divest Demandforce, QuickBase, and Quicken.