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Intuit announced that it would offer banks and credit unions the opportunity to implement Mint as a PFM platform integrated with the FIs’ online banking platforms. As usual, NetBanker was all over this with it’s equally as typical excellent analysis. Jim Bruene’s list of pros and cons for FIs to consider regarding implementing Mint is spot on.

Well, mostly spot on.

There are a few points I’d quibble with. Jim writes:

“Many of Intuit’s 1,100 online banking clients (500 of which use Intuit’s FinanceWorks PFM) will jump at the chance to integrate Mint. Non-customers will be considerably more wary.”

Jump is not the right word.

For the 500 FinanceWorks users, switching to Mint will be a difficult decision. Mint.com may be the gold standard in PFM, but forcing users to change something they use (and may actually like) should not be taken lightly. I also find it difficult to believe that the other 600 clients have been holding off from deploying PFM because they’ve been waiting for Mint.

Jim also points out the potential for brand confusion:

“Adding another brand to your service is always a tough call. And if other banks offer the same Mint-branded PFM, have you lost the potential for competitive advantage? Furthermore, does driving your customer into Mint actually make you more vulnerable if Intuit or someone else releases a “conversion kit” to move all your account history to Mint.com or another bank’s Mint service?”

I don’t think of deploying Mint as adding “another” brand to the online banking service. What other brands are there? Geezeo and Money Desktop are industry, not consumer brands. Popmoney is not a strong consumer brand. There are no strong consumer brands in the world of remote deposit capture. Checkfree for bill pay? It’s not the Checkfree brand that draws consumers to use online bill pay.

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NetBanker’s list of pros and cons are excellent, but it my simplistic way of looking at the world, there’s one overarching question banks and credit unions need to answer here:

Economically-speaking, what are we going to get out of implementing Mint?

According to the nearly 500 credit union executives surveyed by Filene Research last fall, 6% of credit union members use PFM tools provided by their credit union. In other words, the 12 million users that Mint has (or so it claims) is more than double the number of PFM users the total credit union industry has (you can do the math).

1. Will integrating Mint into the online banking platform jump start PFM adoption in a way that other platforms have been unable to?

Geezeo and Money Desktop may have some stories to share about how their clients have seen better than 6% adoption of PFM.

2. If existing Mint users are happy using Mint at Mint.com, will they switch to using it at their bank’s or credit union’s site?

Yes, I too have consumer research showing that consumers would prefer to use PFM at their FI’s site — but those aren’t the existing Mint users.

The future Mint user experience confuses me. Intuit told me that they would not deploy the offers functionality of their dot-com platform in their FI platform. But couldn’t a consumer who uses Mint on their FI’s platform just go over to Mint.com to see these competing offers? If they’re already a Mint.com user, I have to believe the answer is yes. 

3. If we implement Mint, and our customers/members use it, what’s really the bottom-line impact to us (the FI)?

And that’s the question that few (if any) FIs can answer with any degree of certainty.

The research I’ve done shows that — according to consumers’ own perceptions — a minority of PFM users (~20%) deepen their relationship with their bank or credit union as a result of using PFM.

So if you’re a credit union with 6% PFM adoption, and deploying Mint would double that –no, hell, let’s make it triple that to 18%, and only one in five of those members will deepen their relationship from using the tools, the question is:

Is it worth deploying Mint to grow the relationship with 3.6% of our members?

There’s no simple way to answer that question. Who are those 3.6%? How will they grow the relationship? How much do we really need to invest in order to get that relationship growth? Could we be doing some differently with PFM to make the 20% impact rate expand to 40% of PFM users?

Bottom line: Deciding whether or not to implement Mint is not an easy decision. If your FI is willing to make a serious commitment — to PFM, not just Mint — as a tool and platform for nurturing and growing customer/member relationships, then you should do the hard work of figuring out if this is the right platform for your organization. If you’re not willing to make a serious commitment to PFM…

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