Should You Install Mint@Yourbank?

image Yesterday, Intuit announced a Mint-branded PFM that banks can install within their secure online banking sites (press release). Several pilots are beginning shortly, but widespread availability is expected towards year-end.

The service will contain similar functionality as Mint offers directly today. However, FI end users will not see third-party offers, unless the bank decides to run them. See the mockup below for what Mint will look like running within a retail bank.

Many of Intuit’s 1,100 online banking clients (500 of which use Intuit’s FinanceWorks PFM) will jump at the chance to integrate Mint. Non-customers will be considerably more wary. See the pros and cons below. 

I was briefed by Intuit’s Mint folks Tuesday, so I’ve had 36 hours to ponder the implications (see note 1). As Aite’s Ron Shevlin blogged yesterday, the move comes as no surprise to anyone. But now that the moment has arrived, banks and credit unions must decide if they want to cede PFM branding over to Mint. There is no right answer, but here are a few pros and cons to ponder: ________________________________________________________________________________
Pros:

  • Mint is THE brand name in PFM. In fact, it’s probably the best known name in all of personal finance, not counting big financial institutions and payment brands. When I tell friends and family what we do at Finovate, I usually get blank stares until I say that we have companies like Mint on stage demoing their new products. Then they get it; everyone seems to have heard of Mint. So it will be easier to educate the market by simply saying, “we offer Mint built right in to your online banking.”
  • Current Mint users can import their history and aggregated accounts right into your bank’s secure site with the click of the button. With 12 million registered users (note 1), that means that about 10% of your customers base has already set up an account there and could be off and running MUCH faster than using your home-grown service.
  • Tax integration: While some may view this as a con, the links between Mint and sister product TurboTax, provide a nice solution for banks to push during tax season. 
  • Attractive UI: While the other players (notably Money Desktop) have caught up, if not surpassed, Mint on the UI front, it still provides a UI that is head and shoulders above the typical banking site.
  • Early mover advantage: If you are the first in your market with Mint integration, it could provide a meaningful competitive advantage while you have that space to yourself. And the advantage could remain if you are thought of as “that bank with Mint” for the next few years.
  • Jump-start mobile money management: Few banks have anything beyond basic balance/transaction info in mobile banking. Whereas Mint is now acquiring almost half its customers in the mobile channel.
  • Your customers already use it: A typical bank has 10% of its customer base registered with Mint (though the active user base is much smaller). Those customers are being served competing offers whenever they login to Mint.com. Those offers are replaced with your marketing messages when using Mint@YourBank

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Cons:

  • It’s an added expense, potentially a significant one: Intuit declined to get into specifics of the cost, but they said there are per user per month charges. If I were Intuit, I’d start the costs low, and raise it aggressively over time as customers were locked into the platform.
  • Control goes to Intuit: Right now, financial institutions are in the drivers seat. Mint is popular and growing, but it’s unlikely to achieve true mass-market status without better integration into financial institutions. And if it becomes the industry standard, then banks may have less power in future negotiations.
  • Brand confusion: Adding another brand to the mix (i.e., one that competes with your FI brand) is always a tough call. And if other banks offer the same Mint-branded PFM, have you lost the potential for competitive advantage? Furthermore, does driving your customer into Mint actually make you more vulnerable if Intuit or someone else releases a “conversion kit” to move all your account to Mint.com or another bank’s Mint service. And will customers even bother to move from Mint.com to Mint@Yourbank?  

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Bottom line: It’s a great move for Intuit. They extend their distribution, potentially dramatically, and better monetize Mint (note 2). And it gives Intuit a platform to develop additional services to sell to client banks. 

Should financial institutions jump on board? Assuming you can overlook control issues, it will boil down to the usual outsourcing issues (cost, support, integration, etc.). So, if Mint@YourBank looks economically feasible, it’s worth putting on your short list. The automatic conversion from Mint.com is a huge benefit. The known brand should make customer/employee education easier. And if you move fast, you can leverage the Mint brand to position yourself as the “personal finance” leader in your market.

But if you want to control your own destiny, avoid conflicting branding, and potentially lower costs (note 3), you may be happier with other solutions. 

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In this Intuit-provided mockup, Mint appear on main navigation and in two primary sections within online banking (3 April 2013)

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Clicking “Mint” on main nav bar leads to this familiar spending screen

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Secondary navigation leads to all the usual Mint functionality, for instance “Budgets” shown here

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Notes:
1. For me, Mint has come full circle. I still remember nervous Mint founder, Aaron Patzer, at our first Finovate in 2007 (demo video). He was riding high after his win at the inaugural TechCrunch40 (now Disrupt) two weeks earlier, but he was afraid he’d be caste out by the banking audience he was attempting to disrupt. His fears proved unfounded as the audience voted Mint Best of Show. Now, his former company is making a bold bet that those very banks will now promote the Mint brand to their customers. 
2. According to an estimate by Steven D Jones at Dow Jones (no relation I presume), Mint brought in less than $3 million during Intuit’s fiscal second quarter. However, that does not include substantial cross sales of TurboTax and QuickBooks, which together are a $4 billion annual business.  
3. I’m making the assumption that as the premium name in the business, Mint will eventually cost more than other solutions. That may or may not happen, as Intuit is large enough to subsidize the service for at long as it sees fit.
4. Intuit will be demoing at FinovateSpring in May.
5. For more on balance forecasting and other advanced PFM features, see our Online Banking Report: PFM 4.0 (June 2012; subscription).

Mint Launches Mac App: Mint QuickView

imageI’ve been a big fan of apps ever since I first pressed the weather button on the iPhone in 2007. After 12 years of http://www.blahblah.com/blah.htm, it was refreshing to just press a button and get the necessary information quickly, perfectly rendered and distraction free.

So I like Mint’s latest move, putting a similar user experience onto the desktop (see note 1) with an app for the Mac (link) that provides a quick overview of balances, transactions and alerts (see email announcement below).

Once installed, Mac users simply click on the Mint icon on the top and/or bottom of their desktop, and it immediately opens to a display of the latest balance-and-transaction info. Like iPhone apps, the icon also shows the number of unread alerts on the badge (see first screenshot). 

Other novel features:

  • A search bar along the top of the transaction search
  • Optional password protection: You can choose to look at your data without logging in (after the first time)
  • Timed password protection: Users can select how long they can look at the data before the password prompt is shown  

I’ve used it for only a few minutes, but it looks like it will become my primary method of accessing Mint. Unless you need to run a report, it has most of what you need available immediately, shaving 30 to 40 seconds or more off the time to retrieve info from the full website version.  

image Bottom line: Mint is the first PFM or banking app to hit the Mac store, beating all the major financial brands to the punch. And it’s been rewarded with “featured app” status which has propelled it to the very top of the Free Apps ranking in the Mac App Store (see inset above).

Because it raises the bar in the delivery of banking info, we are bestowing it with our fourth OBR Best of the Web award for 2012 (see note 2). 

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Mint QuickView app pops up after clicking on icon along the top

Mint QuickView uses dropdown from top icon on Mac


Transaction search from top line

Mint QuickView features prominent transaction search

Net income view

Mint QuickView


Email from Mint announcing Mac QuickView
(16 July 2012)

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Notes:
1. We wrote about moving online banking info to the PC desktop in our Online Banking Report in 2002 (subscription).
2. Since 1997, our Online Banking Report has periodically given OBR Best of the Web awards to companies that pioneer new online- or mobile-banking features. It is not an endorsement of the company or product, just recognition for what we believe is an important industry development. If anyone knows of other financial institutions offering a similar feature, let us know and we’ll update the post. In total, 86 companies have won the award including Mint in 2007. Recent winners are profiled in the Netbanker archives.

Out of the Inbox: Mint.com Pitches Capital One Credit Card in Triggered Email Alert

imagePrecise, content-sensitive advertising is extremely powerful. It’s what made Google a giant. 

In financial services, the biggest advertising-driven success (after BankRate and Google), at least in terms of market cap, is Mint.com. Its revenue stream is entirely made up of targeted offers to customers who aggregate banking transactions on its site.

The company wisely uses email to deliver some of the advertising pitches. As we’ve discussed before, Mint is of the few financial companies directly monetizing triggered alerts.

We were impressed by the latest effort received Tuesday (see below). Having noticed that our Chase business card was used internationally, incurring a $14 transaction surcharge, they wisely pitched us a Capital One no-foreign-transaction-fee card.

Interestingly, we already have not one, but two of those Cap One cards (personal and biz) and they are both aggregated at Mint. So I’m not sure if this alert is more of a reminder to use our Cap One charge when traversing the world or that Mint doesn’t check current product usage when cross selling (or they don’t care). If Mint is only paid on performance (eg. by new accounts generated), then it doesn’t matter to Cap One that they are marketing to an existing customer.

Bottom line: The example demonstrates the marketing value of hosting the aggregated accounts.

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Mint triggered alert (12 June 2012)
Note: The advertisement is two-fold. The banner with "apply now" is the most eye-catching, but also easier to ignore. There is also a text call to action above it, that looks more like alert copy. It says: "Stop paying extra to use your credit card overseas. Get a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees."

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Change Sciences Names PNC Virtual Wallet Best Bank PFM with Mint.com a Close Second

image Researcher Change Sciences has been doing outstanding work in financial user experience for more than a decade. In the last year alone, they’ve published deep dives in online, mobile, social media, mortgage, small business, investing, and account opening. The company counts most of the major players as customers; typical reports cost $5,000.

Its latest, published this week, contains a much-needed look at the UI of personal financial manager (PFM) services offered through major banks.

The winner? PNC Bank, which not only took top honors for its Virtual Wallet, but also claimed the number-three spot for Wealth Insight, a service geared to high-net-worth clients, launched last September. Both PNC PFMs were designed in conjunction with IDEO.

Mint.com came in a close second followed by the biggest surprise of the survey Bank Simple, which tied with USAA as the second-highest scoring bank. 

For more info, download the research fact sheet.

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Overall PFM Ranking
points on Change Sciences scorecard

PFM ranking from Change Sciences
Source: Change Sciences, March 2012

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Notes:
1. Image from Italian band PFM <pfmpfm.it>
2. For our take on PFMs, see our May 2010 Online Banking Report.

Mobile Banking Increases Need for Read-Only Account Access

image It had been a while since I’d logged in to Mint.com from my iPhone and I had forgotten just how easy it is. The online PFM pioneer has boiled the process down to the bare minimum (assuming you’ve enabled "passcodes," see note 1).

Logging in takes just four numerical "keystrokes." You don’t even have to press a login or done button (inset). As soon as you press the last digit, you are automatically logged in.

As an added bonus, PIN authentication is handled on the phone instead of the server, so you get an immediate error message if you type in the wrong one.It’s a great user experience, though I wish Mint still supported the stay-logged-in option, which is fine when accessing a "read only" data file (note 2).

This brings me to my main point (finally!). Banks need a "read-only" account access option (note 3). Than means no account numbers are shown. No check images are accessible. No personal info is available. And of course, you can’t perform any transactions (note 4). And the read-only password should be different than the "normal" one.

The read-only option would make customers feel more secure about banking online, especially from:

  • Mobile phones
  • Tablets
  • Wifi hotspots
  • Hotel rooms
  • Friend’s house
  • Public terminals
  • Home (if you don’t trust your own network)
  • PFM or third-party programs (note 3)

With read-only services, bank security folk can ease up on unwieldy password requirements for mobile access. And it might even prevent a crook or two from gaining full account access due.

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Notes:
1. The four-digit PIN option is for users that have enabled passcodes for login from the Settings area in the Mint.com app. Otherwise, users must enter their full Mint username and password.  
2. While it’s a privacy concern, read-only account access with no login should be an option for a PFM. Of course, you must make it absolutely clear to users the danger of non-password protected data.
3. ING Direct offers read-only access to PFM programs
4. Funds transfers among existing accounts or even to existing billers could be OK, but it muddies the waters a bit from the perspective of the user.

Mint.com Helps Users Keep Track of What’s Ahead with New Bill Timeline & Reminders

imageIt’s hard to believe that Mint turns four next month. It made its financial industry debut at our first Finovate conference (demo here, Oct. 2, 2007) after having launched to the general public a few weeks earlier.

With 5 million registered users, and public ownership (Intuit), it’s now “the establishment” that dozens of startups look to unseat.

Mint made a large stride forward this week with the addition of a bill-due-date timeline to its Overview page, the page that users land on after login (see inset and first screenshot below).

The company also expanded its text and email bill-due-date reminder system. A wizard launched from a promotion on Mint’s main page (screenshot 2, 3) prompts users to establish reminders for regular household bills.

Bottom line: Mint’s billing timeline is a good example of the forward-looking approach that’s much needed in online and mobile banking.

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A timeline of upcoming bills has been added to the Mint.com’s main Overview page (25 Aug. 2011)

A timeline of upcoming bills has been added to the Mint.com Overview page

Mint promotes the new feature with a huge interactive banner on the main  Overview page

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In this pop-up box, Mint gathers together likely bills and asks if you want a reminder

In this popup box, Mint gathers together likely bills and asks if you want a reminder

A timeline of upcoming bills has been added to the main overview page

A timeline of upcoming bills has been added to the Mint.com Overview page

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Note: For more on online personal financial management (OFM), see Online Banking Report (published May 2010).

ING Direct Advertises on Mint.com Email Alerts

image ING Direct (USA) has been a prominent sponsor within Mint’s online PFM. However, this is the first time I’ve noticed the bank advertising via email alert. And specifically, the direct bank is pitching its fee-free Electric Orange Checking account on the bottom of an email alert about a fee on my U.S. checking account. Excellent timing! 

It’s unusual to see an ad on a Mint.com alert. I spot-checked a dozen or so during the past two months, and this is the only one with any direct marketing. But if it works, I’m sure we’ll see more of it. Context-sensitive advertising is what the Web has been built on.

Mint.com email “fee charged” alert (16 Feb. 2011)

Mint.com email alert that a fee was charged to my U.S. Bank business checking account

ING Direct landing page focusing on lower fees (link)

ING Direct landing page focusing on lower fees

Mint.com Traffic Soars Under Intuit Ownership

image I don’t know if it has anything to do with the publicity Mint received in recent months following its acquisition by Intuit or the promotional links from Quicken’s website, but the online PFM juggernaut just blew the roof off its monthly traffic. According to Compete, in January, Mint had 1.7 million unique visitors, 600,000 more than a year earlier.

To provide a little context, not counting the Dec. to April tax-time traffic spike at Intuit, Mint’s traffic is now slightly HIGHER than that of its parent company (see chart #1 below). That gives you a little understanding of why Intuit coughed up $170 million for the startup.

Another way to look at it: Mint now has as much traffic as the tenth largest U.S. retail bank, BB&T (see chart #2).

The interesting question for 2010: Now that Mint is part of the establishment, what startup will rise up to challenge it? Or will the banks, back on a path to profitability, fill the need going forward? 

Chart 1: Mint’s traffic is now similar to Intuit’s non-tax-time traffic

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Source: Compete (link)

Chart 2: Mint now has about the same number of visitors as the tenth largest U.S. retail bank, BB&T
Note: Mint is blue line below

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Source: Compete (link)

Note: For more information on the PFM space, see our Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features.

A Look at Mint’s Twitter Aggregation Site: Money Tweets

image Leave it to Mint to make 140 characters of personal finance chatter sexy. Yesterday, I noticed a link to a new feature called Money Tweets tucked away at the bottom of an account-alert (see inset below; note 1). The site launched in November (press release), but I was all wrapped up in P2P payments at the time (note 2) and never looked at it.

imageMint’s effort is the best use I’ve seen of Twitter as a content-creation tool (see screenshot #1, below; note 3). And once established, the site basically runs on autopilot, making it a cost-effective way to bring fresh, real-time content to your customers. 

Money Tweets has five content areas:

  • Aggregated tweets from 20+ writers on five subject areas: savings, investing, budgeting, loans, and retirement
  • Tweets about Mint using Twitter search
  • Tweets from Mint using its Twitter stream
  • Tweets from anyone answering the company’s Question of the Day such as today’s topic, “Is now the time to buy a house?” (upper right in screenshot below)
  • Tweets from anyone using keywords taken from personal finance trending topics

Bottom line: Aggregation of the tweets from personal finance experts (with extra credit for adding your own voice to the stream) is a promising tactic for your online marketing plan. But most (all?) financial institutions will want to steer clear of streaming unmoderated tweets from anyone mentioning your company’s name. That’s going to cause way too many internal headaches as it attracts spam and customer complaints. 

Main page at Mint’s Money Tweets (link, 8 Jan. 2010)

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Notes:
1. As an aside, Mint’s superb graphic design extends even to its email alerts, which look like a sticky note on the screen.
2. For more on the P2P payments market, see our latest Online Banking Report, published earlier this week, Making the Case for Person-to-Person Payments
3. For more on using Twitter, see our May report, Connecting to Customers with Twitter.

Intuit’s New Quicken Site Sprouts Some Mint

image If anyone still wondered how serious Intuit is about incorporating the Mint brand into its portfolio after its $170 million acquisition, take a look at the latest version of the Quicken sales site. Mint is prominently featured (see first screenshot below), especially if you scroll one “ad spot” over (second screenshot).

I also found Mint mentioned at PayTrust, Intuit’s bill management site (third screenshot). There’s even a small plug on the Quicken Online login page (fourth screenshot).

However, on Mint’s site the co-branding is not reciprocated. Quicken is not mentioned at all and Intuit is relegated to 8-point type at the bottom of the page (fourth screenshot).

The latest traffic figures from Compete support the theory that Intuit is de-emphasizing Quicken Online in favor of Mint. Traffic to <quicken.intuit.com> fell 50% in November to about 400,000, while Mint held steady at about 3x that, 1.2 million unique visitors.

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Source: Compete, 10 Dec 2009 (link)

Quicken homepage on default choice, Quicken 2010 (link; 9 Dec. 2009, 11 PM)

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Quicken homepage with Mint.com selected from scrolling choices
Note: Yellow highlight is mine

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Intuit PayTrust homepage (link)

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Quicken Online login page (link)

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Mint homepage
Intuit mentioned twice at bottom of page (yellow highlight is mine). 

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Note: For more information on the PFM space, see our Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features.

Is Mint Worth $170 Million?

image The rumors broke yesterday and the confirmation came today. Intuit is buying two-time Finovate Best of Show winner, Mint for $170 million (see note 1). Few people are surprised by this move or the price. Mint’s latest VC investors had just invested at a $140 million valuation a few weeks ago, so $170 mil is in line with that. It’s also a 5x return to the total VC investment of $32 million, so everyone associated with Mint has to be pretty happy, especially in an environment where most assets have fallen by double digits in the past two years.

image The bigger question is whether the startup is worth $170 million? To Intuit, I think the answer is definitely yes (see below).

Intuit shareholders were indifferent with no real movement in share price today (see inset) on lower-than-normal trading volume (note 2). Because of the deal, Intuit lowered per-share net income estimates by 2 cents ($6.5 million loss) for FY 2010, and says there will be no material impact after that.

Apparently, Intuit will keep the Mint brand, at least for now. Mint CEO Aaron Patzer will be general manager of Intuit’s personal finance products, both online AND desktop.

I’m no M&A expert, but here’s why $170 million sounds reasonable to me:

  • At Intuit’s current multiple (20x), Mint needs to generate approximately $10 million in annual profits to break even for shareholders. With 1+ million users at Mint, that’s $10 per user per year, less than a buck a month.
  • While Mint isn’t likely making that type of profit today, the combination of lower costs from Intuit back-end systems and additional revenues from upselling Intuit services (TurboTax, Cuckoos, and others), should elevate Mint to a $10 million-plus business unit relatively quickly.
  • Intuit needs an entree to the young-and-frugal segment, and Mint can be the starting point with users migrating to Quicken Online (which can be returned to a fee-based, advertising-free service), TurboTax, and/or QuickBooks over time.
  • Plus there’s a bunch of intangibles that are difficult to quantify until you see how Intuit handles the Mint.com user base. Even though there’s the usual grousing from Mint users today, in reality, Intuit’s trustworthy brand name should be able to retain current users and grow the base.

Here’s how I break down the purchase price:

$5 to $10 mil >>> Assets: Code, IP, employees, etc.
$10 to $20 mil >> Brand: Name, URL, traffic, awards, etc.
$100+ mil >>>>> Customers (1,000,000 at $100 each)
$25 to $50 mil >> Option value

Notes:
1. Mint won the audience voting for Best of Show at both our 2007 and 2008 Finovate conferences. If you want to see and meet the next Mint, we have a few dozen tickets left for Finovate 2009 on 29 Sep (purchase tickets here).
2. Last week, shares fell $0.40 or 1.4%.

Xero, Mint, Northwestern Mutual Win Webby Awards in Financial Categories

image The winners of the annual Webby awards were announced today. There were three financial services categories with Mint, Xero, NW Mutual taking top honors.

Financial services category
mint_logo Mint won the main Webby and the People’s Choice beating BillShrink, Lending Club, Portfolio.com and Wikinvest.

Banking/bill pay category
image Xero, a New Zealand-based online accounting service (screenshot below), won the main Webby and the People’s Choice in the category Banking/Bill Pay beating Billeo, Rudder and Schoneleij, a text-based payment service from Rabobank.

Insurance
image NWMutual’s Let Your Worries Go microsite won the main Webby and Allstate’s Garage won the People’s Choice beating Blue Shield of California’s Uncovered microsite, Pemco’s We’re a Lot Like You microsite and Compare the Meerkat, a microsite from Compare the Market.

Webby winner Xero’s attractive account interface and iPhone app 
(5 May 2009)

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