The mobile phone banking service that Intuit Inc. rolled out last week is part of an effort to link the company's desktop software products with online services, according to executives.
The financial technology company's Quicken Beam service duplicates some of the features of its popular software products, but more closely resembles the account alert services offered by many banks than its comprehensive financial management tools, the desktop version of its Quicken software or the Web-based version, Quicken Online.
Whittling down the features was important considering the service's target audience, Intuit said.
"This is more for people who are not inputting their financial information on a regular basis," Diane Carlini, a spokeswoman, said Friday. "This is for people who are getting hit with overdraft fees," who "don't track their financial information as closely as a Quicken user."
The Quicken Beam text message service lets consumers make balance inquiries and receive alerts for bank and credit card accounts. Quicken Beam is free and is separate from Quicken Online, which carries a monthly fee.
Ms. Carlini said Quicken Beam is still in the test phase, and additional features may be added later. It may also be paired with other Intuit products, depending on customer response.
Intuit president and chief executive Brad Smith said in a conference call Thursday to discuss fourth-quarter and full-year results for fiscal 2008 that the Mountain View, Calif., company is focusing more on what he describes as "connected services." That encompasses both online-only offerings and its desktop products, which are increasingly tied to Web-based features.
That strategy is already in use with Intuit's tax and small-business products. It will become more visible with Intuit's banking products in October, when the company expects to launch the consumer edition of FinanceWorks, an application that incorporates elements of Intuit's Quicken and QuickBooks desktop products into its online banking software.
"Our financial institutions business, the entire business model, is a connected service," Mr. Smith said. The small-business version of FinanceWorks is to be launched in December. Work on these projects pre-dates Intuit's February 2007 purchase of Digital Insight Corp., its online banking division.
Intuit's revenue rose 11% in its fourth quarter from a year earlier, to $478 million. Its net loss was $61.9 million, up from $13.6 million a year earlier.
For the full fiscal year, which ended July 31, revenue rose 15%, to $3.1 billion. Net income rose 8%, to $476.8 million.
For the first quarter of 2009, Intuit projects 8%-11% revenue growth, to $480 million to $492 million.
Edward Woods, a senior analyst for the Boston market research firm Celent, the financial research arm of Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc.'s Oliver Wyman consulting unit, said there is demand for accessing financial data on the go, though some consumers are still wary of using their phones to make payments or perform other transactions.
"If you're removing money movement from the equation, I think I would go with the mobile device," Mr. Woods said,
Intuit may get more adoption if it bundles Quicken Beam with Quicken Online or FinanceWorks, Mr. Woods said.
Without a link to a more complex service, "they're not going to see half of the online banking population turn to something like this," since many banks are already offering mobile alerts, he said. "I look at these mobile devices as another channel, not another product."