Personal financial management (PFM) companies are under lots of pressure, both from competition in a crowded market and the struggle to get people to actually use the service.
One of the earlier brands to tap the PFM space, Mint.com this week expanded its tools to move deeper into mobile banking and commerce via a letter of intent to explore a strategic alliance between Intuit (INTU), which owns Mint, and Monitise (MONI), which recently acquired mobile banking tech provider Clairmail.
"Our feeling is when you start to think about mobile payments and mobile wallets, Mint brings another element of personal financial management," says Carl Tsukahara, head of marketing for Monitise Americas. Tsukahara says the use case for PFM in mobile banking includes the ability to check finances and budgets while redeeming merchant offers that are becoming increasingly mobile and an important part of merchant acquisition strategy for card issuers in a more heavily regulated industry.
Mint will be delivered to financial institutions through Monitise's enterprise technology platform. The two companies also plan to collaborate on other projects, including Intuit's use of Monitise's mobile commerce and mobile payment solutions.
There's considerable reach among banks between the two companies, which will come in handy as Mint battles an increasingly diverse range of PFM providers that are offering more tailored solutions and robust user interfaces to boost experience.
At the same time, Monitise faces competitors of its own, including Fiserv and other major mobile banking providers. Intuit's mobile web, SMS and downloadable app solutions are used by more than 500 U.S. banks and credit unions, while Monitise sells mobile money service to more than 300 financial institutions, and a third of the largest 50 institutions in the U.S.
The intent to work together comes as Monitise is raising more cash. Earlier in December it contracted with Cannacord, a Vancouver-based investment bank, to raise about $150 million. The company is also making acquisitions, buying out the remaining shares of Mobile Money Network, and the point of sale technology company eMerit.
"We've had mobile banking for some time as Monitise or Clairmail. It's a strong baseline of mobile banking and mobile payments… [This round] is about building the third leg with mobile money," Tsukahara says.
Monitise hopes the expansion of mobile money will allow client banks offer a wider range of electronic commerce products via mobile.
Tsukahara says an example could be a car dealership using a mobile app to extend special offers to consumers that have been preapproved by a bank for a certain amount of credit to purchase a car. "How do we allow banks and merchants and customers to play together under the same experience?" he says.
The eMerit acquisition will allow Monitise to offer mobile payment acceptance to small to medium sized business, allowing the company to compete with Square and other banks and companies that sell devices that allow mobile phones to receive card payments.