Web & communication software

Quicken Online to Taste Like Mint

I just spoke with Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint and general-manager-to-be of Intuit's personal finance group, about Intuit's planned $170 million acquisition of Mint and what it means for consumers. A few notes from our discussion on what's in the works, assuming the merger goes off as planned:

Quicken Online will become a reskinned Mint. It doesn't make sense for one company to have two Web-based personal-finance services that, while far from identical, are trying to do similar things. The battle between Quicken Online and Mint will end, and it's Mint that will be the victor: The Quicken Online service will be pretty much the same service as today's Mint except with Quicken's red-and-white color scheme, Patzer told me. Current Quicken Online users should see their transactions move into the Mint-powered version, and Patzer hopes that other items such as categories will also be able to make the transition. Why not just kill Quicken Online? Patzer says the Quicken brand name is so familiar that it makes sense for Mint to adapt its identity as well as to keep its own moniker.

Mint features will migrate into Quicken's desktop software. One core aspect of Mint from the start (and a major part of its business model) has been the way it analyzes your financial life and attempts to recommend offers that make sense for you, such as credit cards and mortgage refinancing deals with lower interest rates. Patzer says the plan is to bring some of this stuff into Quicken's traditional software version, too.

Quicken desktop isn't going anywhere. At the moment, it has more advanced features than either Mint or Quicken Online in some areas, such as investments and tax handling. Patzer says Quicken users tend to be older than Mint's customers (in their 40s and 50s vs. 20s and 30s) and like the security of keeping their financial details local rather than stored on distant servers. So even as Mint and Quicken Online get more sophisticated, there will be a need for Quicken in software form.

Mint will take advantage of Intuit's back-end. Intuit has a deep portfolio of technologies and partnerships in the areas of online billpay, banking, and the like. Patzer says this should let Mint become a more transactional service-instead of just seeing that a bill is due for payment, you might be able to pay it right inside of Mint.

Mint and TurboTax will meld. You'll be able to push all the things Mint knows about your financial status, such as gains and losses, into TurboTax. Patzer thinks this could dramatically reduce the drudgery of tax time.

Patzer says he knows that some Mint fans are apprehensive about the acquisition, but that they needn't worry-especially since the Mint management and engineering team will "take a leadership role" in the combined companies.

In other news, he told me that Mint has submitted a new version of its iPhone application to Apple's App Store. Among the changes: a PIN for added security, push notifications for stuff like bills that are due, and a slicker look.

Harry McCracken is founder and editor of Technologizer. For more smart takes on technology, visit Technologizer.com.

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