Earlier today, online banking startup Simple unveiled new reporting features that will allow users to see how much — and where — they’re spending money in their bank accounts. Those features seemed aimed squarely at Intuit-owned Mint.com, which has been one of the leading online budgeting and data visualization tools.
One advantage that Simple has over Mint and other online budgeting tools is that is linked directly to a user’s bank account, meaning all of the data and reporting that it generates is directly actionable. And it can do that because users have their own Simple-branded debit cards and checking accounts. Well, it might not have that advantage for very long, as it appears that Mint will soon introduce its own debit card, called the Mint Control Card.
An advertisement for the card was spotted hidden in Mint’s code and sent in by a tipster earlier today. TechCrunch developer Vineet Thanedar has confirmed that yes, the code is there — but of course, we’re not sure how long it’s been there or how soon before Mint.com’s debit card will officially be launched and advertised to the public. [Full text of the ad is below.]
While it’s unclear exactly how the debit card will connect with Mint’s service, the pitch seems strikingly similar to what Simple is trying to accomplish with its service. In particular, Mint’s promise to let users “know exactly where [they] stand” sounds a heck of a lot like Simple’s “Safe To Spend” feature, which takes into account a user’s income and regularly scheduled expenses to determine how much discretionary spending money they have. Also, the ability to “reach savings goals faster” is similar to Simple’s recently released “Goals” feature, which lets users designate a certain amount of money they’d like to save and have it automatically deducted from their “Safe To Spend” amount.
Both Simple and Mint.com are seeking to provide data visualization tools to allow users to see exactly where their money is going and provide advice on how they can make better spending decisions. But while Simple is slowly rolling out debit cards as part of its public beta, Mint already has a very large and engaged user base tracking their finances through its platform. That could be a huge advantage, if it can convert existing users to use the card. It also is advertising a 2 percent cash back bonus for purchases made using the card, which is another competitive advantage.
All that said, getting users to switch is a huge pain, even for existing banks. It will be interesting to see how both Simple and Mint fare as they seek to convert online users to their services.
Introducing Mint Control Card: control your finances.
Now there’s a debit card that helps you control your financial life and make smarter spending decisions.
Know exactly where you stand.
You’ll instantly know what’s left on your card and where you stand with your budget, in real-time, so you’ll always know what’s left to spend.
Stay on-track with your spending.
You can set spending limits in any category you choose, so you’ll never have a negative balance or pay an overdraft fee again.
Make better decisions and save more.
Reach your savings goals faster with controlled spending — plus 2 percent cash back on everyday purchases — so you can get to where you want to go.