Intuit Inc.’s new financial management tool is aimed at a broader swath of the small-business market than the company originally intended to target.
The Mountain View, Calif., company announced its long-in-development Small Business FinanceWorks online banking system this week. The product resulted from its 2007 acquisition of the online banking technology vendor Digital Insight Corp.
Intuit said at the time of the $1.33 billion acquisition that it would combine its consumer financial management software with Digital Insight’s online banking products to deliver tools that banks could offer through their Web sites.
The consumer version of FinanceWorks went live in September.
Intuit has said all along that the small-business version would enable banks to reach an untapped market: very small businesses may be too large or have finances that are too complicated for consumer online banking services, but use them anyway because there is no alternative product.
The application Intuit announced Tuesday is aimed at that audience, but the company said it plans to release an updated version that is to target the high end of the small-business market — companies that banks often try to serve with their own cash management applications.
Alliance Credit Union of San Jose has been testing Small Business FinanceWorks since December with 30 of its 300 business members, and it said the early results have been positive.
When Alliance makes FinanceWorks available to all its members next month, Melina Schoonover, the credit union’s assistant vice president of retail and electronic delivery, said she expects many people using its consumer online banking service to switch over. “We know that we have some members that use their personal account as a business account because they feel they are not large enough” to qualify for anything more, she said.
Karen Van Kirk, the director of small-business solutions for Intuit’s Digital Insight unit, said Intuit realized when it was developing a marketing plan that some banks did not want to sell business services to consumers.
“Our clients tend to all have a different approach for where they put businesses, so some will put their smallest microbusinesses on the cash management platform,” she said.
FinanceWorks will be integrated into Digital Insight’s cash management platform this spring, she said.
Intuit also plans to integrate the small business software with its desktop applications, giving small-business owners have a way to graduate to Intuit’s QuickBooks and TurboTax programs as their businesses mature.
“We think, based on discussions we’ve had with our financial institutions, that we can reach an even bigger audience” by linking FinanceWorks to a product set intended for bigger companies, Ms. Van Kirk said.
Unlike the consumer version, which is a single package, the small-business version is offered in modules. That means banks can change business customers different rates depending on which components they use.
The key components of the small-business version are its invoicing and payroll modules, the latter of which will be rolled out in the spring. Small Business FinanceWorks also can also handle remote deposit capture from home scanners, and some legal filings.
Christine Barry, a research director at Aite Group LLC of Boston, said the tools Small Business FinanceWorks offers are “something, I think, the market needs.”
The initial rollout of small-business FinanceWorks on the consumer banking platform makes sense, Ms. Barry said, because it will help banks discover cross-selling opportunities they may not have realized they had.
Banks and credit unions “haven’t really been able to identify that microbusiness,” she said. “They’ve been hiding in the consumer group of customers.”
The next phase, selling through cash management, also has merit because it would give the banks a chance to cross-sell and upsell their more sophisticated products and services, Ms. Barry said.
“Most importantly,” she said, “it keeps them on the bank’s site.”