CALABASAS, Calif. -- Digital Insight and Intuit Inc., its new owner, will spend the next several months rolling out what they hope will be the next generation of online banking.
FinanceWorks, in both a consumer and home/small business format, essentially integrates Intuit's ubiquitous Quicken software into the home banking platform, giving users an unprecedented view of their financial positions and a new ability to manage their finances, the company said.
Consumers whose financial institutions use DI as their online banking vendor -- and that's about 10% of the 43 million home banking households and 80 million end users out there -- will be able to do such things as manage and pay bills in a single place, track expenses, and create budgets based on that data.
Small and home-based businesses--some 22 million nationwide, according to DI--will be able to take advantage of cash flow and payroll tools, the ability to create professional-looking invoices and accept credit card payments whether generated online or manually entered.
That's in addition to online banking functionality such as account opening and fund transfers.
FinanceWorks was developed after DI and Intuit conducted a series of more than 40 studies of what end users are really doing. These included individual consumers on up to businesses with as many as 500 employees.
They often got up close and personal: more than 200 in-depth interviews and "follow-me-home" observations were conducted, whereby a staffer actually observed what actions the consumer was conducting and where the "pain points" existed.
"What we have learned is that while it's important to listen to what customers say, it's critical to watch what they do," said Sasan Goodarzi, DI's new president. "What they say and what they do can be very different things. By observing their workflow, we get a much better idea of what they're trying to achieve."
The studies actually began as a joint effort between Intuit and Digital Insight before Intuit bought DI, a $1.3 billion transaction that closed in February 2007.
The studies showed there are three essential problems faced by home consumers and small businesses alike, according to George Perry, DI's director of consumer solutions.
"I want to manage all my bills in a single place. I want to know my real balance (which includes transactions not yet cleared) and I want to see where I'm spending my money," he said.
Tax time will be when Personal FinanceWorks and Small Business FinanceWorks will also be particularly useful, Perry said.
"We consider our competition to be the shoebox of receipts," he said.
But the idea, of course, extends beyond April 15.
Simplicity is driving the development process. For instance, consumers can pay bills several different ways, all without going to another company's screen working behind the scenes. And a calendar tracks when bills are to be paid and the impact on real balances.
The integration of Quicken into the home banking platform, meanwhile, means data is stored and processed and organized and analyzed without being separately entered into Quicken or another home budgeting program.
"The whole idea is for the credit union Web site to become the center of the member's financial life," said Robb Gaynor, DI's vice president and general manager of consumer solutions.
Another focus was to provide functionality in the simplest-to-use fashion, and give end users the choice of what they want to use and want to ignore, instead of simply compiling a list of features. For instance, personal categorization, another feature seen as key to end user adoption, is built in as a learned process by the software.
DI executives point to the experience of one of their corporate owner's best-known products. "QuickBooks was launched with less than half the functionality of the competition but within three months had 75% of the market," Gaynor said.
Goodarzi, meanwhile, points to another high-tech icon of success. "Think about the iPhone," he said. "The iPhone wasn't created because Apple was Apple. Apple did it by observing customers, seeing what they want and what they do, and now they have a huge, new market."
FinanceWorks is in beta at three sites right now and will be rolled out over the next several months, Goodarzi said.
"We're learning from them and we're rapidly making improvements," the DI president said. "My focus is to have a product in the marketplace that will create a tremendous amount of buzz because of the value it's creating for our customers, while at the same time we're expanding the pilot as more and more financial institutions feel comfortable with adopting it."
Goodarzi said "this viral way of doing it has worked across Intuit, where our customers become very happy with the product and tell others, versus our hurrying up and just getting it into a bunch of financial institutions.
"Ultimately, by solving the problems that are most critical to consumers and small businesses in a way that's very intuitive and easy to use, we're going to create an environment where credit unions and banks can offer their members and customers a hub to do what they want right there and not go anywhere else," the DI president said.