How Makes Money

Advertisements, Upgrades, and Referrals Keep The Basic Service Free, otherwise known simply as Mint or, and regarded as one of the premier personal financial-summary tools, primarily generates revenue through two streams: advertisements that appear on its website and app and referrals to other institutions and companies within the financial services industry.

Mint aims to bring together a view of your total financial life, including bank accounts, bills, credit cards, and investments, to provide personalized information to help you manage your money. Since its formation in 2006, it has had great success with raising capital and expanding its customer base, reaching millions of users. Its operations improved as a result of its acquisition by Intuit (INTU) in 2009, allowing it to capitalize on multiple revenue streams.

Mint was founded in 2006 with $750,000 from angel investors. It received $4.7 million in Series A venture capital financing in 2007 and $12 million in its Series B round. In August 2009, Mint received $14 million from six investors. Just a few months later, Mint was purchased by Intuit for $170 million.

Key Takeaways

  • Mint is a personal financial services company that aggregates information from various accounts for easy management.
  • Mint generates revenue through advertisements and referrals.
  • Most Mint services are available free to customers.

Mint's Business Model

Mint operates by gathering all aspects of an individual’s personal finances into a single location. A user links their Mint account with their personal bank account. Then, as transactions occur, Mint receives the financial information and provides customizable reports. The same process is completed with investments, credit cards, and other financial accounts. Users can input information regarding real estate properties owned to track real estate values.

Mint offers users an easy way to see their bills and money together in one place. This allows for an individual to create and manage a budget while providing a way for users to receive alerts for different types of activities on their accounts.

Intuit’s purchase of Mint provided numerous benefits to how Mint operates. Through the deal, Mint began to rely on Intuit’s methods of extracting financial information by utilizing web-scraping applications to gather individual customer data. Information from larger banks is typically extracted using web services or file-transfer protocols, while data from smaller institutions can be extracted using web scraping. Mint currently uses Intuit's Customer Central platform to collect data.

Fast Fact

Intuit purchased Mint for $170 million in Sep. 2009.

Mint's Advertising Business

Mint has monetized its free product by including advertisements on various parts of its website and app to generate advertising revenue. For a fee, companies may purchase advertising space on Mint's various platforms. Mint utilizes targeted advertising, so users may find the advertisements relevant since prior search history and elements of the user's profile are utilized in the contextual ad displays.

Mint's Referral Business

Mint generates revenue based on referrals made to financial institutions, products, or credit cards. Through its "Ways to Save" service, Mint offers financial opportunities that may benefit consumers. When a consumer utilizes the advice of Mint, the referred company rewards Mint with a referral payment. For example, Mint often recommends credit cards based on APR and rewards point offerings. Upon an individual signing up for a credit card through Mint, the company receives revenue.

The referral service is utilized when a user requests opportunities or alternatives. For instance, an individual may select to view alternative credit card opportunities and how they compare to their current position. Alternatively, an individual may investigate alternative banking opportunities to search for higher interest rates and lower banking fees. Mint provides users with referral links that contain information on these services. Upon the customer clicking the referral link and completing an offer, the link earns revenue.

Key Challenges

As with other startups, Mint has faced a number of challenges related to competition and growth over the years. The company fared tremendously well early on, as evidenced by its history of fundraising in its early years. While Mint enjoys substantial name recognition and a strong user base at this point, there are always up-and-coming services looking to draw users away. For instance, when Mint announced plans to shutter its bill pay service, rival personal finance service Prism refocused its marketing to indicate that it continued to offer users this option.

Correction—December 21, 2021: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that sale of user data was one of Mint's revenue sources.

Article Sources
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