Quicken Throws Hat Into Bill Payment Ring

FRAMINGHAM (04/21/2000) - Joining the likes of Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MoneyCentral, Intuit Inc.'s Quicken.com is offering MyFinances. The all-purpose financial services dashboard offers everything from bill paying to stock tracking.

Though Quicken is a big name in the area of money management, it will be going head-to-head with some big players - including banks themselves.

Mountain View, California-based Intuit has teamed with 33 banks, 15 brokerages and eight credit-card companies - with another 57 banks and credit-card companies expected to join in the next couple of months. However, many banks already offer electronic bill paying and other financial services online.

Catching Customers

"If you've got customer satisfaction already existing for a bill payment solution with a bank, it's going to be difficult to move a customer to this service," said Randi Purchia, an analyst at Newton, Massachusetts-based Meridien Research Inc. "But if you've got a new user, those are the ones you might be able to catch."

Intuit's service may also be attractive to customers who move and change banks frequently, she added.

Another set of candidates is people who have multiple bank accounts, said George Barto, an analyst at Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Group Inc.

"Customers know that if they sign up with their bank, the bank will only make payments out of the checking account at that bank," he said, adding that some customers also pay bills out of brokerage accounts or other sources.

For those customers who pay their bills out of a single checking account, however, Intuit's service will probably not offer any additional benefits and may cost more to use, Barto said.

In addition, the bill payment service might create conflicts with the banks themselves. "Banks do see bill payment as their purview," Barto said. "They really don't want somebody bypassing them."

According to Gartner Group research, online bill payments are expected to increase from around 1% today to more than 25% in 2004.

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