Intuit Opens Up APIs To Financial Data Behind Quicken, QuickBooks, Mint (And Even FinanceWorks)


Intuit is opening up a new host of APIs to their Financial Data Services applications.

This API opens up the following applications:
Quicken, QuickBooks, Mint (And Even FinanceWorks) 

Wow.

OK, maybe wow.

The new API suite promises to give access to data from over 19,000 financial service organizations. That’s a lot of data – and a lot to be concerned about because it sounds like it’s not just the aggregated data – the applications may be able to use personal user data to offer individualized value propositions and targeted applications for payments, rewards, loyalty programs, if-then-then-that banking actionable notifications – and more.

Is This A Threat to Banks and Credit Unions?

It depends on what we see this data used for, and what banks and credit unions can then leverage themselves (or through their own partnerships). We’ve been hearing tidbits about opening up pieces of the banking application platform for some time. But this API isn’t the open platform to Intuit’s Online and Mobile banking applications that clients are waiting for (and just about every major direct to FI fintech provider seems to be talking about).

This API can theoretically access the data behind every user account that uses one of these applications – that’s over 20 million users of Mint and FinanceWorks alone (I’m not sure how many more use Quicken/QuickBooks…but a number of factors above that number  and over 60 million who use Quicken and QuickBooks).

That’s a lot of people, and a lot of data.

And a lot of possibilities.

It surely will increase competition in the financial ‘big data’ space – something most FIs are already pretty bad at leveraging – after all, Mint, Quicken, and QuickBooks and their targeted advertising has mostly been looked at as competition by most banks – cross sells to the larger bank advertisers like Ally Bank – or to Intuit’s own products.

Access to FinanceWorks data is even more interesting – this PFM solution was designed before Intuit acquired Mint. It’s now used by over 10 million banking customers – and represents the largest ‘pseudo-white-label’ PFM out there.

It sounds like FinanceWorks will see more changes soon – FW is apparently slated to merge with direct to consumer Mint sometime in late 2012, initially for small business (and may disappear as an offering in favor of Mint – something most FIs would probably have mixed feelings about). I’m actually excited about the idea – the Mint UX has always had better focus, better ad targeting, and while it’s showing its age, it is certainly a step up from the functionality of FW.

But let’s get back to the API.

So what are banks and credit unions to do? Now even more companies will be able to leverage this transaction and payment data – those startups and other fintech companies willing to partner with Intuit – potentially offering further disruption to the banking model and income streams.

Or is it much to do about nothing?

Is the expansion of the API simply opening up the data stream to additional developers a way to pad Intuit’s revenue stream, in essence opening up Web Connect, DirectConnect, and the OFX back end connectivity to financial institutions for new income and third party innovations to leverage within Intuit’s own technology stack? Or is it an opportunity for banking? Here’s how they position it – examples of what you can do with the data.

An Opportunity for Banking?

How can financial institutions leverage this data? Whether through partnering with Intuit directly, adding third-party applications leveraging the larger data sets, adding functionality within their online and mobile banking stack (powered by Intuit or not), or partnering with external Intuit approved developers adding functions easily adopted by consumers and businesses – these institutions open to this development might be in the best position.

It’s time to start re-thinking the utility of the banking model – and the use of the transaction data stream. Moves like this by Intuit make it only more clear.

It is an interesting move that is sure to get some developers coding very soon (and hopefully some of them will be within the banking industry).

That’s access to a treasure trove of transaction data.

Let’s see where it goes.

Chime in.

Here is additional information on the API from Intuit and the media.

Download the PDF here. Connect with the Intuit Developer Network here.

It’s not the first time Intuit has opened up an API to third-party developers to access their applications. Read more here and here. There was even a brief Quora page to address the topic.

What else is Intuit working on? Look at their list of current projects.

From TechCrunch:

Intuit is announcing today the availability of a new API that will give third-party developers access to the financial data service that powers Quicken, QuickBooks, Mint.com, and FinanceWorks. Basically, Intuit is allowing developers to tap into transaction information from 19,000 financial institutions, autocategorize this data, and embed it into applications.

While the Intuit Partner Platform already offers third-party developers access to QuickBooks data, this new financial data service will allow third-party technology providers to offer their customers access to their own financial data from thousands of sources of personal and business banking, brokerage, and investment accounts in the U.S and Canada. Intuit says that developers can use this data to track customer insights and support automated delivery of targeted guidance and offers based on the customer’s unique financial situation.

For example, SaveUp, a free rewards game for saving money and reducing debt, is using the API and aggregating financial information from users who opted into its program. The API will be available on a limited basis in October through the Intuit Partner Platform, with wider availability in December.

From ZDNet:

Intuit is gearing up to open up its application programming interfaces to its financial data service in the United States and Canada for the first time ever.

The idea behind the open APIs is to spur innovation for developing new personal and small business finance applications from third-party developers.

Essentially, Intuit is offering resources to find what could be the next QuickBooks or Mint.com

The APIs will also offer developers with the opportunity to develop new tailored apps for their respective customers based on data from more than 19,000 sources of personal and business banking, brokerage and investment accounts in North America.

It’s important to note that Intuit specifies that technology providers can only create solutions based on data given with customers’ permission.

Aaron Patzer, founder of the Intuit-owned personal finance platform Mint, emphasized in prepared remarks about the importance of this kind of information being available to developers as access to reliable financial data is “among the biggest challenges developers face when working to innovate.”

“These new APIs will accelerate the pace of development we’ll see at startups looking to create new services for both individuals and businesses,” Patzer continued.

The small business software provider asserts that this is a big move for the company as it is touted to be a win-win situation for both Intuit and its customer base. Specifically, customers should win thanks to more offerings tailored to them by leveraging data while Intuit is boasting to be improving the cost for developers seeking to access this data.

The open APIs to Intuit’s financial data service will start rolling out on a limited basis in October through the Intuit Partner Platform. Up until now, this platform has only offered QuickBooks data.

Wider availability is promised to commence in December.

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4 thoughts on “Intuit Opens Up APIs To Financial Data Behind Quicken, QuickBooks, Mint (And Even FinanceWorks)

  1. It’s really very complicated in this full of activity life to listen news on TV, thus I
    simply use web for that purpose, and obtain the most up-to-date information.

  2. I wonder how this will impact banks who currently pay for Intuit licensing to connect to QuickBooks and Quicken data via the direct connect in web connect products. Will the new application interface lead to a cheaper way to access to QuickBooks and Quicken data or will it be the same? Time will tell.

    1. You bring up a good point. The existing OFX infrastructure fee is often thrown into contracts between FIs and Intuit directly (when you offer their IFS technology stack), but adds substantial cost if the FI is buying it just to offer web and direct connect. I would imagine the pricing for API access to this data will be cheaper – because it is leveraging a centralized OFX host at Intuit’s data center – and because it isn’t designed to interface with Q/QB, but we’ll have to see. IFS clients just received additional detail – but no pricing (yet).

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