• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Mint’s shutdown is an opportunity for banks

The 16-year-old site struggled to monetize, but experts said personal financial management products should focus on engagement. Credit: Tada Images/Adobe Stock

Mint, a pioneer in personal financial management technology, will shut down after changing the sector over the last 16 years, leaving an opportunity for banks to capture customers with their own budgeting products.

Intuit announced this week that it would fold the personal financial management, or PFM, platform it bought in 2009, which had struggled to prove a profit, despite reeling in 3 million-plus users. The PFM space has evolved dramatically since Mint launched 16 years ago, as the bar for those products has risen and fintechs filled the market, said Dylan Lerner, a digital banking analyst at Javelin Strategy & Research.

Intuit is encouraging Mint users to migrate to Credit Karma, which the company acquired three years ago, before Mint is no longer available on Jan. 1. Credit Karma offers a suite of products to monitor finances, like credit scores, spending habits and transactions. In September, Intuit also began rolling out a generative AI-based financial assistant called Intuit Assist to help Credit Karma members with financial decisions about credit card optimization and cash flow management.

But Intuit said in a release that the platform won’t provide Mint’s bread-and-butter monthly and category budget feature.

“Is it a surprise they got rid of [Mint] because they had to and it wasn’t super profitable? No, that’s probably basic business,” Lerner said. “But the fact that they didn’t try to find a way, at least that we know of, to consolidate and put those two things together … that’s the big surprise here to me, is that we’re not seeing that here.”

When Mint launched 16 years ago, it was a leader in aggregating and centralizing financial data, planting early seeds of open banking. Now, the fintech space is crowded with companies looking to serve similar purposes, like Monarch, a subscription-based site that reported a boost in users since the Mint announcement, along with YNAB and Empower.

Monarch co-founder and CEO Val Agostino, who was also Mint’s first product manager in the mid-aughts, wrote in a blog post that the shutdown is “bittersweet,” but “not a surprise,” because “a free personal finance app is simply not a viable business.” Lerner added that many fintechs struggle to monetize.
Tyler Brown, a senior analyst at CCG Catalyst, said the Mint shutdown was a “long time coming,” because PFM has evolved beyond just budgeting and cash flow. Financial management products are about engagement, he said. Products can get users to repeatedly return by offering personalized solutions based on a complete view of their financial data, like Credit Karma’s credit score tracking.

“PFM has forked in a couple of different ways over the last few years,” Brown said. “It’s not just finding ways to scrape data from the bank in order to centralize it in a way that makes it useful to the customer. It’s about being able to extract data from a bank, insurance company or another fintech company, and then to process it in a way that’s going to be useful to the customer.”

According to Javelin research, only about 6% of consumers use a third party for financial planning, but Lerner said that doesn’t mean 94% are using their banks. He said he thinks most people aren’t budgeting formally, but traditional financial institutions could attract some customers with options similar to neobanks.

Lerner said that he often advises banks to invest in their PFM options, and the marketing of those options, not just for a financial return, but for engagement. He said banks are often focused on wallet share, but should also be thinking about “share of mind,” which he defines as where customers are thinking about putting their money.

“If you’re their bank, and they’re not thinking about you first when they’re thinking about money … that has got really prominent repercussions,” Lerner said.

Most major banks offer in-house budgeting or financial planning solutions, and many smaller banks provide those services through fintech partners. For example, Bank of America launched Life Plan in 2020, Wells Fargo rolled out LifeSync earlier this year and JPMorgan Chase introduced Wealth Plan in 2022.

Lerner said financial planning products aren’t complete without including all of a consumer’s data, like retirement plans and student loans. He added that as data aggregation and analysis technology has evolved, consumers want more out of their PFM product, like financial advice and next best steps.

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