A new online personal finance management site called Mint rolled out its service today during a preview at TechCrunch 40. It bills itself as "the fresh, easy and intelligent way for people
to manage their money online."
According to the folks at Mint, the idea for the service came about when the company founder spent hours trying to set up his financial data on Quicken. Indeed, Mint is intended to be an easier, faster alternative to Quicken and online banking software. Mint's web site says it can be set up in five minutes, and it downloads information from your bank and credit card accounts nightly to keep up to date. It will also points out areas where you can save money, or even make money. Mint's tools point out how much money you have, and where it is going.
Mint also goes to great lengths to tell potential users that its service is anonymous and secure. The final selling point: unlike Quicken or similar software, Mint.com is a free service.
I haven't signed up for the service, and I'm not sure if I will . First of all, call me paranoid...but what if somebody DOES happen to hack into the site, no matter how unlikely? That's an awful lot of personal financial info to trust in the hands of a start-up online service.
Secondly, how does Mint make any money? If I'm going to hand over all of my personal financial info, I'd like to know they are going to be around for a long time. I'm sure that the "suggested savings" users can gain by moving their money to a higher-interest account elsewhere is sponsored by somebody (such as the bank they are suggesting).
I think I will take a "wait and see" approach with Mint. For now, I'll stick with my online banking and my checkbook register.