When Intuit, the makers of popular personal finance software Quicken, purchased Mint.com for $170 million, users of both services expressed concerns about the future of their favorite financial tool.
After it became clear that both Mint and Quicken Online would remain free, the only real question left was, "Which service would remain standing after the purchase was complete?"
Last week TechCrunch broke the news that Aaron Patzer, the new vice president and general manager of Intuit's Personal Finance Group at Intuit, would be closing down Quicken Online within six to nine months and migrating users to Mint.com.The decision to move Quicken Online's 1.5 million users over to Mint, which boasts 1.7 million users, was an easy one to make since Mint has 700,000 active users a month compared to only 100,000 at Quicken Online.
This announcement raised many question among users who, comfortable with what they already knew, wondered what would happen to their financial data and favorite features.
If you read my review of Quicken Online, about living paycheck to paycheck, you may have picked up on the fact that it was my favorite personal finance tool. I caught up with Patzer in a phone interview on his first week at Intuit to ask him what will happen to our information and what we can expect as the transition takes place.
First off, Patzer explains, "The general premise is that we'll take the best of both products and combine them into Mint."
Specifically, Mint.com users will gain the ability to manually enter transactions such as cash purchases or to account for a check that hasn't cleared the bank yet. There is a possibility that the new version of Mint will allow users to import "qif" files that store data from the desktop versions of Quicken at the account level; but the exact functionality of this option is still up in the air.
Another big change is that Mint will no longer be powered by Yodlee's aggregation platform that supports about 12,500 financial institutions, but instead by Intuit's own platform that supports 14,000 institutions.
"Which means we'll be able to cover more small credit unions," said Patzer, explaining that, "anything that Quicken Online covers will now be covered in Mint, and vice-versa."
So what about your transactions, accounts, alerts and budgets? Patzer assured users that "You won't be losing any data."
The transition will preserve account connectivity and transaction history so that you don't need to reconnect with all of your various financial institutions or import your old data. The team is still investigating if they will be able to bring over budgets and notifications to Mint.com mainly due to the different default categories available in each service. Patzer doesn't want to use "imperfect matching" of the budget and notification data so it all comes down to the complexity of matching.
If you're a Quicken Online user who wants to know what to expect from Mint, in addition to the standard money management tools, Patzer provided a few Mint.com features that will give you extra power in controlling your money. First off, you'll be able to track your investments, such as a 401(k) or IRA. Mint shows you all of your investment holdings and performance at several levels including a breakdown of your investments.
Another cool feature available on Mint is the Savings Engine. This tool uses a patent pending algorithm to analyze your account and look for ways to save you money. It will help you find the best interest rates on savings accounts, CDs and credit cards based on your financial situation.
It's smart enough that it won't show you offers that you aren't eligible for; such as those with a minimum required balance that is out of your reach. "Later in the year we'll be doing things like home loans and debt consolidation," Patzer said.
He also shared good news for users who want to keep up to date on their finances while on the go, telling us that a version of the popular, Mint.com iPhone app would soon be available for the Android phones like the new Motorola Droid. Patzer hopes that the Android version of Mint.com will arrive in late January, a few months ahead of schedule.
Overall, it appears that Patzer and his team at Intuit are working hard to make the switch from Quicken to Mint a smooth one and by combining the best features from both services they will raise the bar for online personal finance tools, a move that benefits everyone.
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