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One-stop personal money management

Work & Lifestyle

For many consumers, personal financial management is an exercise in frustration, particularly if they’re trying to coordinate multiple bank relationships or get desktop software to do it for them. Mint, which just made its debut, aims to change all that with its free, fully automatic online service. To begin, users register anonymously with just a valid e-mail; then they enter their log-ins for online bank, credit union and credit card accounts. No need to input data or synchronize accounts—Mint does all that for them—and personal identity always remain hidden. Mint has relationships with more than 3,500 banks, credit unions and credit card providers, and each night it securely downloads transaction data to give users a unified view of all account activity in a single, easy-to-understand interface. Transactions are categorized and organized to show users how much they spend on gas, groceries, parking, rent, restaurants, DVD rentals, etc., while an alert system proactively notifies them about unusual activity, low balances, unwanted fees and charges, and upcoming bills. Mint’s revenue model is based on lead generation. The system keeps tabs on the latest offers from hundreds of providers and recommends ways users can save money on interest rates and other expenses. During its beta period, for example, Mint found an average of USD 1,000 in savings opportunities for each user within minutes of setup. Those recommendations are objective and determined by a patent-pending proprietary algorithm, founder and CEO Aaron Patzer says, but if someone chooses to switch to a company that’s among Mint’s partners, Mint earns a referral fee. Mint is available 24/7 by web or mobile phone, but currently only to US consumers, of which more than 30,000 have already signed up (plans are in the works for international expansion). Its biggest challenge may be a reluctance on the part of some consumers to hand over that much sensitive information, even if it is anonymously. But the site’s outlook is promising: Mint just won the TechCrunch40 Top Company Award, and it has attracted investment from both the venture and angel communities. It’s also a good model for the transition from desktop applications to online services. Mint, anyone? (Related: Online receipt organizer thinks inside the box.) Spotted by: Frank Marquardt



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