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: ________________________________________________________________________________
- 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.
- 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?
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.
In this Intuit-provided mockup, Mint appear on main navigation and in two primary sections within online banking (3 April 2013)
Clicking “Mint” on main nav bar leads to this familiar spending screen
Secondary navigation leads to all the usual Mint functionality, for instance “Budgets” shown here
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).