Seeing as Mint.com won the TechCrunch 40 competition this past week and received the $50,000 award as being the most impressive presenting company, we thought now would be a good time to introduce you to them for our Weekend Website Feature. In this article we’ll explain what Mint is, some of their features, how they’re keeping your information safe, and perhaps a few things that they could improve on.
–What is Mint?–
Mint is "Refreshing Money Management" online. Likely designed to compete (although not directly) with Quicken, one of the most popular current methods that people use to manage money, Mint is an all online version that will help you keep your finances in order. It has the capability to sync all of your accounts (bank, credit cards, etc.), and best of all, it’s free.
- Mint categorizes your purchases into categories like gas and grocery, although it doesn’t always get it right
- It can potentially save you money — "Mint constantly searches through thousands of offers from hundreds of providers to find the best deals on everything from bank accounts to credit cards, cable, phone, Internet, and more." While it saves you money, this is how the make money.
- Access anywhere – one of the benefits of being online
- They connect with over 3,500 financial institutions in the US
- Each day your accounts will get updated – this will prevent you from going to multiple sites to keep your finances updated. The average person in the US has four different banks that they work with, so this can definitely save time
- Interface – it is intuitive, clean, and looks nice – unlike some of the Web 2.0 companies we’ve seen
- Helps you see where you’re "wasting" money with your purchases – maybe on food, clothing, etc.
- Get email and text message reminders – Mint tells you when you have upcoming bills due, and can email you with info on your spending activity
- Site is viewable on a mobile phone
Security is probably the biggest issue for Mint because people are going to be skeptical of providing the username and password for all of their bank accounts to a start-up. However, if you want Mint to work for you, you’ll need to do this. They say they give you bank-level security and anonymity and they don’t share or sell information, however, just saying that they’re safe isn’t going to be enough for everybody.
If you’d like more information about how Mint keeps your information safe, they’ve got a whole page dedicated to explaining what they do. After reading it, I must say, I do feel better about it. They use the same back-end to retrieve data from your financial institutions as Microsoft Money uses, so that ought to make you feel better. Microsoft Money has been around for a while, with no security issues.
Getting started is as simple as entering the login information for your financial accounts. Mint will pull that data in and then show you a dashboard with all of your finances displayed. It only takes minutes to get started – literally. When I was test-driving the service, I was setup in about 5 minutes.
Mint is nice, but I wouldn’t consider it a "complete" financial planner and organizer. For those accustomed to using Quicken’s Online Bill Pay, they’ll be missing it in Mint. They’re also missing the ability to track stock portfolios and investments, and the service is currently only available in the U.S.
Another thing that’s missing right now is the capability to meet the demands of people wanting to give it a try. After winning TechCrunch 40, many people were having problems with the site . They definitely had a huge spike in traffic because of the fact that they won, and they just weren’t prepared for it. It’s understandable, but I’m sure they’ve lost a few users already because of it.
–Wrapping it up–
There are two things that stand out in my mind when I think of Mint – ease of use and interface. It’s so simple for anyone to use, and to boot, it looks nice! They’ve got all kinds of charts and pie graphs that make analyzing your spending habits simple and easy on the eyes.
Their biggest hurdle that they’ll have to jump over will likely be security. From the sounds of it, they’ve truly thought the security issues through, however proving that to skeptical users may be tough.
Mint is off to a great start, and it’s surely promising. Just winning the TechCrunch 40 competition has put them in a position where they can only go up from here. I look forward to seeing how they’re able to improve, and whether the mainstream will be willing to ditch Quicken or Microsoft Money for a web based solution.
If you’d like to get set-up on mint, visit www.mint.com and click "sign up now."