Launched in September, 2007, Mint.com has quickly grown to track nearly $200 billion in transactions and $50 billion in assets and has identified more than $300 million in potential savings for its users. The company, which integrates consumer's sources and uses of cash and makes recommendations on how they can reallocate and save money, allows users to see all their financial accounts in one place. That makes it easy to set and keep to budgets, and helps identify money-saving ideas.

Mint, which Intuit (INTU) bought for $170 million in November 2009, has more than1.7 million users and is a success: 90% of users say they have changed their financial habits as a result of using the free service.

How does it work? Mint generates revenues by receiving referral fees from banks. So Mint makes money when its users make money. If a user acts on one of Mint's personalized savings recommendations, Mint sometimes, but not always, earns a nominal fee.

Aaron Patzer, Mint's CEO, explains further: "We bill the banks if we shift consumers to one of their higher yielding accounts."

300 Million Potential Customers

So, for example, of Mint.com looks at the bank account of one of its users at Bank of America (BAC), sees that this account is paying a 0.1% annual interest rate, and refers that customer to ING which has an account that yields 2%, ING would pay Mint a fee if the customer took its advice. Mint's fee is based on the number of accounts that it refer to that bank.

Mint sees its potential market as quite significant. According to Patzer, there are 80 million potential online banking households in the U.S. that could be customers and 300 million worldwide. "Since we became part of Intuit, we are starting to tap that market," says Patzer. "We are doing that by going into India with Intuit and targeting a potential market of eight million people."

Mint has been enjoying significant growth, although there is a tremendous amount of the market that it has not yet tapped. In 2007, Patzer says Mint had 100,000 accounts; in 2008 that grew to between 600,000 and 700,000, and by 2009 it had 1.8 million accounts making it the biggest player in the personal financial aggregation market.

Mint believes that several factors are driving this growth. Among them, the recession is putting pressure on people to get a handle on their finances. But with Mint, it only takes 10 minutes to set up and five minutes to automate payments. Once people start to use Mint, they begin to see where they're spending money, and Mint can then make suggestions to change their habits and improve their cash flows.


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