Editor's note: This story is part of ReadWriteWeb's Online Finance series, a weekly, three-month-long look at how the Internet has transformed finance. Up until April 15, which is the deadline for U.S. readers to file their taxes, we'll be looking at how online finance has evolved, analyzing top web tools and posting video of our conversations with the people who are shaping online finance. If you are interested in sponsoring the rest of this Content Series on Personal Finance, please contact our COO Sean Ammirati.
Mint: Leading the Charge
Mint stood out from the pack early on because the company made it extremely easy to keep track of all your expenses. After giving Mint access to your bank and credit card account, the service simply downloads your financial information at regular intervals and organizes it. Mint can even track your 401(k) for you.
Mint launched in September 2007 and quickly became the darling of the Web 2.0 world. Unlike most of its desktop-bound competitors, Mint managed to talk to virtually every bank and credit card issuer from day one. In October 2008, Mint came out of beta. Today, the company has more than 1.7 million registered users and sees roughly 700,000 active users every month. In October 2009, the company was signing up 30,000 new users per week.
Mint's success didn't go unnoticed by the incumbent market leaders and Intuit acquired Mint in October 2009. In November 2009, Intuit announced that it would begin to phase out Quicken Online in favor of Mint. Microsoft suspended sales of Microsoft Money on June 30, 2009
and doesn't plan to compete in the market anymore. Correction: In December, Microsoft actually announced a plan to enter the personal finance market again with a Mint-like tool it is developing in collaboration with Citi.
While Mint gets most of the mindshare on the web these days, it's by no means the only player in this market. Indeed, the success of Mint has given rise to a plethora of similar tools and legitimizes the efforts of companies that tried to enter this market before Mint.
ClearCheckbook.com, for example, launched in May 2006. The company focuses on bringing checkbook management online.
Wesabe, for example, also focuses on giving users an overview of how they spend their money. Sadly, Wesabe makes downloading your information from your checking and credit card accounts a bit more difficult than Mint.A number of other tools are competing more directly with Mint.
Since acquiring Exepnsr, Strands now also offers its own personal finance tool for setting up and tracking personal budgets and staying on top of your finances. Geezeo - which was founded in 2006, and also looks a lot like Mint, has a very strong focus on budgeting.
Most of these tools focus on the U.S. market, but more and more of them are also now available outside of the United States. Kublax, for example, offers a Mint-like service in the U.K.
Just like almost every other category of online tools, personal finance tools are also making the move to mobile. Mint and Wesabe, for example, offer both an iPhone app and mobile-optimized websites. Most importantly, all of these services are also able to send out alerts to your phone - either through push alerts on the iPhone or as text messages. Whenever you run the risk of exceeding your credit card limit, for example, these services will send you an alert.
Over the last few years, the web has clearly transformed the way we use personal finance software. Over the next few months, we will have a closer look at the current generation of personal budgeting and finance tools on the web. We will also analyze the current trends around online finance software.
This is the first post in our upcoming series about online finance. If you are interested in sponsoring the rest of this Content Series on Online Finance, please contact our COO Sean Ammirati.