One of the biggest Financial Revolution stories ever is terrific news for us all. Why should you care if Intuit Opens Data APIs?
You should care very much because we all will win in the new Mint – Yodlee war. This is exactly what happened when Intuit offered an API for QuickBooks. APIs are Application Program Interfaces. They are programs that make it rather easy for good programmers to interface their programs with the target program's data.
I was among the first to push Intuit to stop being "passively hostile" to QuickBooks add-ons (a term I coined). I took over a 1998 QuickBooks beta (pre-release) test forum to ask what we wanted from the next QuickBooks. When everyone wanted something different, I said that a QuickBooks dabase version (or an API) could give us all this, as Intuit never would. We agreed unanimously.
After winning the beta test contest by a big margin, I visited Intuit. I pressed top managers for QuickBooks add-ons during a big lunch meeting. Many forum, newsgroup and emails about this soon followed. I also began collecting and publishing QuickBooks add-ons and soon had a website for them.
Two years later, Intuit made QuickBooks add-ons its #1 company priority. There were 25,000 downloads of the QuickBooks API on day one. Major developer conferences soon followed, as QuickBooks-Add-Ons traffic exploded. At one point my QuickBooks-Add-ons site had 50,000 – 75,000 hits a day, while Intuit’s add-ons site had only 25,000 a month. This all happened when QuickBooks had about 4.5 million users and a 80% market share. Intuit soon saw that I correctly said that QuickBooks add-ons were one of the best ways to get more users to upgrade often. They also saw that I correctly said that this would let much bigger companies stay with QuickBooks. There are now more than 10 million web pages with words connected to QuickBooks add-ons.
Today's new Financial Revolution is even more significant. Intuit will now open its Mint data APIs. Mint's 15+ million users are already growing very fast. Now they will get countless add-ons, plus nightly automatic bank, credit card and other financial institution entries, from 16,000+ financial insttitutions. 35+ million Yodlee users also should see even more of this, from 12,000+ financial institutions, as Yodlee already has an API. This will create a new Intuit – Yodlee war, where both companies compete with lower API data costs and ease of API programming, further accelerating competition and powerful inexpensive choice.
Based on the 50 million Yodlee and Mint users, vs the 4.5 million QuickBooks desktop users, this also will soon mean tens of thousands of very important apps, in a very short time. Among these will be apps for automatic Electronic Data Interchange between QuickBooks Yodlee, Mint and other programs. This will save trillions, as correctly predicted by a U.N. Committee many years ago. It also will vastly increase accuracy, ease of use, safety, security, speed and timeliness.
We also should see even greater success for companies like Xero, for which I am #3 in U.S. clients. Yodlee and Mint accounting reminds me of what you get from Amex. Xero accounting (especially with add-ons) is by far the have ever saw for small and medium businesses. That is why Xero users grew by 100% in 10 months. It also is ideal for my very inexpensive international CPA assistants, so I guarantee to cut business accounting costs by 35%.
Three cheers for Intuit and CEO Brad Smith. Having Intuit Open Data APIs will lead to a Mint – Yodlee war that we all will win.
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PS: Rod Drury, Xero CEO, retweeted a version of this post before I even mentioned Xero.