Yesterday Intuit took a step into social commerce with the acquisition of the team, technology and patents of social payments startup Payvment. Today, it’s revealing more about how it plans to expand its services into new areas to complement its bread-and-butter business of payrolls and accounting software, with over 20 new products. They include those in payments technologies using NFC and Apple’s Passbook, consumer-focused big data apps, and new products for its Mint financial-management range.
A handful are getting launched this year and some tomorrow, while the rest are still in the experimental phase, Mint says.
Although today’s event is happening one day after the Payvment acquisition, Intuit tells me that’s more coincidence than intentional, but taken together they point to how the company is trying to be more aggressive and innovative about how it plans to develop its product lines going forward.
The various products were unveiled at an innovations showcase at Intuit’s HQ in Mountain View. Here is a rundown of some of the more interesting among them, with some comments from CEO Brad Smith on the wider trends that they speak to:
Facebook marketing (experiment). This is one area where Intuit may expand on Payvment’s technology in social commerce and advertising, the two services that Payvment already offered to businesses. Here the idea will be to use Intuit’s mobile and online commerce platform, GoPayment, to push out discounts to customers via Facebook after they make a payment, facilitating repeat purchases.
Brad Smith, Intuit’s CEO, confirmed that Payvment’s technology will be going here, but also into other areas in Intuit’s portfolio. “We were most excited about exploring the opportunities,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch. “We wanted to get the team on board; it was an acqui-hire in that sense. Facebook marketing is one of several areas they will work on but what I like is how they can bring the social aspect into other areas.”
Optical Card Scanning (launching on Wednesday). This is a new extension for GoPayment, where users will now be able to use a smartphone or a tablet’s camera to scan cards for payment, rather than use the swiper. This is similar to the service provided by PayPal’s Card.io.
I asked Smith whether he thought the mobile payments space would inevitably consolidate, given how many players are built on the Square model of dongles-and-mobile-devices. “Mobile payments right now is not a zero sum game,” he said, noting that 55 percent of businesses in the U.S. still don’t accept credit cards. “We are going to have tons of category growth, but it will come down to who has the best overall value proposition. Payments have to work with banks, accounting packages, and so on. We have all that. That’s why I feel good about our package. We have an ecosystem that supports payment. Consolidation will come down to a handful of people, but it will be about people who have the ecosystem and scale.”
Passbook Discounts (experiment). This will be Intuit’s first foray into Apple’s Passbook loyalty and coupon/ticket aggregating service. Similar to its Facebook marketing experiment, Intuit will use Passbook to push discounts to would-be customers; here the idea is to make the service location-based and send them out when they are near a particular store via geo-fencing technology.
NFC (experiment). Yes, Intuit is looking to take the NFC plunge, but it is still in the process of figuring out if the technology is something that its customers would actually prefer to use instead of cards. “I can’t say it’s inevitable but it’s one potential scenario,” said Smith. “Whether we’re looking at NFC or the dongle, we’re casting all those scenarios. We need to have a bet in all of them but then let the market decide who will win. It’s the power of customer data. Not opinion.”
QuickBooks Online (launching). This is one of several products where Intuit is looking to add more social services. Here, the company is expanding its invoice service QuickBooks to 40 markets, and in the localizing effort, it’s adding a wiki-style, crowdsourced element to let locals contribute new data to help others in their regions. Generation Demandforce, Intuit’s automated marketing tool, now will give its users access to an online community to “connect and share unique insights with thousands of other business marketers.”
“Social is huge for us,” said Smith. “We are looking at trends and how they will shift in the next 10 years and how companies will operate. And what we’ve found is that we no longer want to be consumers. We want to be participants: we choose what we want so we have to make our products configurable from actions to interactions. When you have 60 million customers who can share their wisdom, it can help power people as individuals.”
Data Connections (experiment). The idea here is to develop a big data-based service for small businesses and individuals. Using anonymized data from across Intuit’s 60 million existing customers, individuals will be able to get insights into how particular businesses or business segments are performing.
“We see data as one of two things,” Smith told me. “The first is that it helps you do more things and the second is that it delivers new insights to help you improve your life, using data to get a better return on investment. Very few people have the data we have: We process 40 percent of the U.S.’s tax returns; we pay 1 in 12 Amercians, and we’re the fifth-largest bank in the nation based on bank data. So with users’ permission we can produce a lot of interesting insights.”
The full list of products covered today by Intuit:
QuickBooks Online Global
TurboTax CPA Select
Mint Home and Business
GoPatient (a mobile companion app for doctors’ patient portals that lets patients refill subscriptions, see lab results, make appointments and pay their bills)
Tablet Banking (this is taking a current iPad app to Android)
Intuit Payment Network
Intuit Partner Platform
QBO Cloud Ecosystem
Health Debit Card
Live Customer Community
SnapTax Expanded Capabilities
TurboTax for iPad
TurboTax Military Edition
TurboTax Refund Tracker