Online Personal Finance Traffic More than Doubles; PNC Virtual Wallet Grabs Second Place

image As I was drilling into the latest Compete traffic numbers for the annual Online Banking Report planning issue, I noticed a significant uptick in traffic to online personal finance specialists, almost across the board.

Sept. traffic revealed a total of 1.2 million unique visitors (note 1) compared to less than 400,000 a year ago. Not surprisingly, consumers appear to be taking a closer look at their finances. 

The big three newcomers last year: Mint, Wesabe, and Geezeo saw combined traffic increase by 450,000 users, a nearly three-fold increase from 2007. Geezeo was the star percentage-wise, growing more than six-fold. But Mint accounted for three-fourths of the net gain across the existing players with 330,000 more visitors (see Table 1 below):

Also, two newcomers made a big splash last month:

  • PNC Virtual Wallet launched in July (coverage here) by PNC Bank, which trailed only Mint last month with nearly 140,000 unique visitors (see 2 below).
  • Rudder (a relaunch of Spendview) drew 50,000 visitors last month after its launch at DEMOfall in early Sept.

Granted, the PNC Virtual Wallet benefits enormously from the 2 million monthly visitors to parent PNC.com and PNCBank.com. Yet, it’s still an impressive total and is encouraging for banks and credit unions considering similar efforts.

Table 1: Online PFMs launched more than 1 year ago

  Sep 2008 Sep 2007 Gain ’08 vs. ’07 Multiple
Mint 530,000 200,000 330,000 2.7 x
Geezeo 72,000 11,000 61,000 6.5 x
Wesabe 89,000 33,000 56,000 2.7 x
Yodlee 97,000 50,000 47,000 1.9 x
Finicity/Mvelopes 91,000 73,000 18,000 1.2 x
Buxfer 9,000 3,500 5,500 2.5 x
PearBudget 6,300 2,100 4,200 3.0 x
ClearCheckbook 6,200 2,800 3,400 2.2 x
BudgetTracker 12,000 12,000 0 Flat
  Total 910,000 380,000 530,000 2.4x

Table 2: The online PFM class of 2008

  Sep 2008 Sep 2007 Gain
PNC Virtual Wallet 140,000 0 140,000
Rudder 50,000 2,000 (1) 48,000
Expensify 9,600 0 9,600
GreenSherpa 6,300 0 6,300
RateSurfer 4,400 0 4,400
Thrive 3,500 0 3,500
Expensr 2,900 0 2,900
Banzai 2,700 0 2,700
iThryv 2,000 0 2,000
  T
otal
220,000 2,000 220,000
       
Grand Total 1.2 million 380,000 750,000

 Notes:

1. Sum of the monthly unique visitors from all PFM companies, visitors that went to more than one PFM provider are not eliminated from the total, so there is double counting in the totals. Data source is Compete, pulled 21 Oct 2008.

2. Rudder was previously Spendview, but we consider them to be essentially a new company.

Wesabe Adds Twitter Integration for Account Updates

imageWesabe’s latest feature, the ability to update your account via Twitter, isn’t likely to find too many users in the short-term. However, it’s a great marketing move that could see a fair amount of uptake over time (see note 1).

Although there are less than 2 million Twitter users, the company is currently white hot, one of the most talked about Internet companies (see Google trends below, which shows Twitter search volume is 7x or 8x that of “phishing“). So why not draft off Twitter’s hype, as long as it’s not too costly?

How it works
After logging in to Wesabe and providing your Twitter name, you then simply send a private or public message (aka Tweets) to Wesabe’s Twitter account. Wesabe then adds the expense to your cash-tracking account. You can include merchant name, expense categories, and descriptions to the transaction (see examples below).

Most common: Update via private message (no one else will see)

Private Twitter message to Wesabe


Less likely: Update via public message
(your friends will receive it, and if you have an open feed, anyone could see it)

Public Twitter message to Wesabe

 

Google Trends for Twitter vs. phishing (9 Aug 2008)

image

Note:
1. Updating accounts via text message and email has much wider appeal. It’s one of the recommended items in our personal finance feature set. See our Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features for more info.

Bank of America Reports 2.5 Million Users of My Portfolio, its Online Personal Finance Tool

image Two months ago we published a table (here) showing active users at the leading online personal finance startups. Below is the table, updated with March traffic and the addition of one more player: Bank of America.

The bank, which offers a full-featured online personal finance management solution called My Portfolio, powered by Yodlee, has 2.5 million active users, according to BofA exec Marina Moore (note 3). That's an impressive 10% of the bank's online user base, and about 6x the total user base of all the online startups combined (note 4). 

Company Users (1) % of Total March Traffic(2) Jan Traffic(2) Chg
Bank of America 2.5 million 86%
Mint 180,000 6% 160,000 150,000 7%
Wesabe 100,000 3% 28,000 41,000 (32%)
Buxfer 80,000 3% 8,400 9,200 (9%)
Geezeo 20,000+ 0.7% 8,400 14,000 (40%)
NetWorthIQ 13,000 0.5% 10,000 11,000 (10%)
BillMonk 10,000+ 0.3% 1,700 1,000 +70%
Expensr Five figs 0.3%+ 2,000 1,700 +18%
Total 2.9 million 100%      

For more information:

Notes/Sources:

1. Users: per BusinessWeek Online, Feb 2008, figures are reported by the companies and may include inactive users; Mint has been updated to 180,000 from 130,00 based on new figures reported in the Bank Technology News article published in April 2008

2. Traffic: per Compete estimates of website traffic for March 2008, retrieved April 21, 2008. Compete estimates traffic from its online data and can be off by a factor of two or three-fold for smaller websites.

3. As reported in a Bank Technology News article published in April 2008.

4. This table does not reflect all the players, such as Intuit's new Quicken Online, just the ones highlighted in the BusinessWeek article.

400,000 Users at Online Personal Finance Startups

link to BusinessWeek article In a Feb. 11 BusinessWeek Online feature (here), reporter John Tozzi listed the self-reported user bases at seven new entrants in online personal finance. The roundup led with an anecdote about Wesabe CEO Jason Knight answering phone calls from users (see inset).

The seven companies listed below are only a subset of the online personal finance space. The list does not include users at Quicken Online, Yodlee, Mvelopes, and another two dozen smaller players. Nor does it include users at financial institutions that support online personal financial management such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Key Bank, River City Bank and others.

Company   Users Traffic
Mint* 135,000 150,000
Wesabe* 100,000 41,000
Buxfer*   80,000   9,200
Geezeo   20,000+ 14,000
NetWorthIQ   13,000 11,000
BillMonk   10,000+   1,000
Expensr* Five figures   1,700
Total 370,000+ 230,000

Sources: Users per BusinessWeek Online, Feb 2008, figures are reported by the companies and may include inactive users; Traffic: Compete, Inc, estimated unique visitors for January 2008

*Will be presenting at our FINOVATE Startup conference April 29, 2008

For more information:

  • Previous NetBanker coverage here
  • Online Banking Report #131/132: Personal Finance Features for Online Banking
  • Online Banking Report #142/143: Social Personal Finance

Wesabe, Billeo Add Image Capture: Is it the Next Must-Have Online Banking Feature?

Link to WesabeThis past week, two Web-based personal finance firms, Wesabe and Billeo, have announced feature upgrades (Wesabe release here, Billeo here). One common thread: the ability to easily capture screen images of ecommerce transactions and file them for later reference (note 1).

Link to BilleoThe time-saving feature was added to Quicken several versions ago, but it's still not yet supported at any financial institution or credit card issuer (see Online Banking Report: Personal Finance Feature for Online Banking here). While it won't change the world, it sure eliminates one of life's little hassles, the decision each time you transact online as to whether you really should "print out this page for future reference" (and where to store the pesky printout if you do.)

How image capture works today:

  1. Pay a bill or purchase something online.
  2. At completion of the transaction, select "browser snapshot" from Wesabe's drop-down menu or "save & file" from Billeo's toolbar (see screenshots below). 
  3. The image of the transaction confirmation screen is stored within the personal finance area and is available for future reference should there be a problem with the transaction; since it's stored as an image file, it can easily be emailed to a disbelieving customer-service agent. Billeo includes a "forward" button in its vault to make it even easier.

How image capture can be enhanced in the future: 

  1. It will automate the transaction-reconciliation process, scraping data from the confirmation screen and automatically verifying that the transaction was processed against the user's bank or credit account properly. Billeo popup
  2. If not, an email/text alert will notify the end-user of the potential problem.
  3. A template could be provided for communicating with the merchant to rectify the problem.
  4. The scraped transaction data could also be run against a tagging engine to add very specific transaction tags, e.g., the purchase at Amazon could be split into x dollars for music, y dollars for housewares and z dollars for housewares.

Billeo's Screenshot Capture Feature
To save a screenshot of a payment confirmation, or anything else, users select the shopping button on the Billeo toolbar. That causes a popup to appear (see inset for closeup) where the user selects the bank/card account, enters a transaction description if desired, chooses a page type, selects the correct purchase amount from the values scraped from the screen, and edits the date paid if necessary.

Billeo popup provides users a method of capturing payment details along with the screenshot of the page

Billeo page/transaction capture

Page viewed later in the transaction records
Users can view the transaction and/or image file later in two Billeo areas: My Vault (not shown) and MyBills (below). Mousing over the paperclip launches a thumbnail of the page; clicking on it launches a full-size view of the page.


Wesabe's Screenshot Capture Feature

To save a screenshot, users click on the Wesabe button on the Firefox toolbar. A few seconds later, the screenshot loads (second screenshot below) and users choose whether to "upload to Wesabe" or "save to disk" or both. After the picture has been saved, the user closes the screen. In our test, save-to-disk worked as expected, and it was easy to retrieve the file through Windows Explorer. However, although the upload to Wesabe seemed to work, we couldn't figure out how to access the uploaded screenshots within our Wesabe account.

Closeup of Wesabe tool

Wesabe page capture tool 

Full screenshot of page after launching Wesabe screenshot uploader

Wesabe page capture

Note:

1. Billeo has supported page-capture since its 2005 launch, but it was not integrated into the payments-transaction register.

Venture Funding Flows to Wesabe and Prosper; Wesabe Launches on Facebook

Link to Wesabe on Facebook Two potentially disruptive startups, Prosper, the leader in U.S. P2P lending and Wesabe, the first-mover in social personal finance, both announced new funding rounds today:

  • Prosper took in $20 million, bringing total funding to $40 million (previous coverage here)
  • Wesabe added $4 million to its bank account, bringing its funding to $4.7 million (previous coverage here)

These are sizable bets on on niche markets that haven't thrown out a lot of revenues so far. But whether they succeed or not, the money will certainly fund additional innovations that will be educational for those in the banking industry. 

Case in point: Wesabe launched an app on the Facebook platform, becoming the first personal finance company to do so (screenshot below). So far it's a simple front door to their group discussions, but with more development resources, it could become a full-fledged "bank" running within the Facebook community.

For more information on Wesabe refer to our latest Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance (here).     

Wesabe's application on the Facebook platform

Wall Street Journal Publishes Roundup of Social Personal Finance Sites

Link to WSJ article If you are interested in online personal finance, you'll want to read tomorrow's feature by the Wall Street Journal's Jane Kim, Managing Your Money in Public View (here). It's an accurate and almost entirely positive story that includes interviews from four satisfied users: two from Wesabe* and one each from Geezeo and Buxfer

Wesabe definitely gets top billing, as it should as the leader in the space. In addition to Geezeo and Buxfer, the article also mentions BillMonk/Obopay, Zecco, NetWorthIQ, and two new stock-trading-oriented social sites, TradeKing and Covestor. The only major omission is Mint, not because they were overlooked, but because they are not yet public. See here for our previous coverage of online personal finance.  

The market-size forecast cited is from the latest Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance (discussed here and here).

One side note that I found interesting: The article included a disclosure that the paper's parent, Dow Jones, is working on a personal-finance site with IAC/Interactive Corp, parent of LendingTree, GetSmart, mortgage lender HomeLoanCenter.com and RealEstate.com. It will be very interesting to see what comes out of that effort.

*Wesabe was on top of this story, posting it to their blog earlier this evening.

MySpace Meets Quicken: What’s Happening in Social Personal Finance

Link to Online Banking Report

Last week, I promised to provide more details on the conclusions in our latest Online Banking ReportSocial Personal Finance: Will social networking revolutionize personal finance? It was mailed to subscribers last Friday, so it should be making its way through inter-office mail as we speak (or download here). 

Here are the major themes/conclusions from the report:

  1. Social networks are the new main street; so banks that want to be where their customers are should NOT ignore social networks.
  2. There are many ways to bring social networking concepts into mainstream banking sites, for instance blogs and forums allow conversations to take place with both customers and employees participating.
  3. The leaders in the space now are startups such as Wesabe and Lending Club. But what they gain in social networking savvy, they more than give back in lack of trust. So financial institutions are still incredibly relevant in social personal finance.
  4. In the future, social networks may become so trusted that they can function as a virtual credit union, bringing together members to provide each other with financial services (e.g., P2P lending) or using their clout to negotiate deep discounts with financial providers (e.g., affinity credit cards).

 Social personal finance innovators profiled in the report include:

  • Buxfer — Named OBR Best of the Web in the report for several pioneering features, including login via third-party APIs, transaction input via email, file appending, Google gadget, and budget alerts
  • Wesabe — Also named OBR Best of the Web for its integration of personal spending records with the wider community

We also looked at Mint, Geezeo, Lending Club, Wells Fargo, and Intuit's new Personal FinanceWorks and Small Business FinanceWorks.

—-

For more information on the report see the landing page here or download the abstract here. And for Colin Henderson's take at The Bankwatch, go here.

 

 

 

 

 

Someday, Maybe You Will "Wesabe" Verizon Before Signing that Two-Year Contract

You know you have it made when your company becomes a verb. Everyone on the planet knows about Googling. Then there is MapQuesting directions to the party, Yelping the best Thai food South of Market, and in financial services, Zillowing the house down the street. Someday, you may Wesabe your wireless provider to see how much users spend there and how they rate the experience.  

At least that would fit the vision of Wesabe co-founder and CEO Jason Knight, who I caught up with over coffee yesterday in Seattle as I was putting the finishing touches on a report on Wesabe and other so-called "social personal finance" companies (note 1).

I came away with a new respect for what Wesabe is trying to do. They are not so much looking to be a Web-based Quicken, as I assumed; but more a Quicken/Google mashup, delivering consumer insights by finding meaning in millions of consumer purchases. Overall, it's more like what Google does with a billion Web pages, than what Quicken does with a few thousand transactions (for each user). 

But unlike Google, which can crawl websites at will, Wesabe must convince consumers to open up their spending files to the equivalent of a search engine crawl. To do that, Jason says that Wesabe "must make financial information interesting (to its users)" while also making it drop-dead simple to upload data to Wesabe.  

No easy task. But Wesabe seems to have a head start on making that happen. More on that in our full report (see note below).

Note:

1. Our next Online Banking Report, Social Personal Finance, will look at the entire sector. You'll find it here next week. It will include a detailed look at Wesabe and Lending Club, which is catering entirely to Facebook users (see post here), and what banks should do to compete and/or partner with this new type of financial provider.