Mint.com, otherwise known simply as Mint and regarded as one of the premier personal financial-summary tools, primarily generates revenue through four streams: advertisements that appear on its website and app, premium accounts offering credit-report monitoring in exchange for a user fee, referrals to other institutions and companies within the financial services industry, and the sale of user data. 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 Aug. 2009, Mint received $14 million from six investors. Just a few months later, Mint was purchased by Intuit for $170 million.

Although Mint does not make most of its company financials or user information readily available to the public, a post on the company blog in 2016 indicated that—after 10 years in existence—Mint.com had more than 20 million users. It is likely that this number has only grown larger in the time since.

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.

Mint offers the large majority of its services free to customers. However, individuals wishing to upgrade to a premium version of the credit monitoring service can pay $16.99 per month to subscribe to the Mint Credit Monitor, which incorporates credit reports and scores by Equifax.

Key Takeaways

  • Mint is a personal finance services company that aggregates information from various accounts for easy management.
  • Mint generates revenue through advertisements, referrals, a premium account option, and the sale of user data.
  • Most Mint services are available free to customers.

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 Premium Account Business

Another revenue-generator for Mint is a paid credit-report monitoring system. Users of Mint can opt for a free credit monitoring system, which allows them to access free credit scores at any time. However, if this does not meet a user’s need, that user can upgrade to "Mint Credit Monitor." This monthly subscription returns multiple credit reports, three-bureau credit monitoring, statistics regarding the user’s credit score, and identity theft monitoring. This premium service costs $16.99 per month.

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.

Mint's Data Business

Mint also generates revenue through the sale and distribution of aggregate consumer data. Mint has continual real-time access to valuable data relating to consumer trends. The company monetizes its unique position through the aggregation and distribution of data. This aggregate data is compiled by combining collective transactions across numerous individuals and obfuscating unique identifiers. In this manner, all individual information is removed and a pool of data remains.

Though Mint does aggregate and sell consumer data, it anonymizes and pools the data to protect user privacy.

Mint ensures a minimum number of transactions occur before pooling and distributing data. For example, it requires at least 50 data points for a specific merchant or ZIP code before the data is combined to ensure each individual’s identity is secure. The information collected and sold provides insight into average spending, saving habits, and banking fees.

Fast Fact

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

Source: TechCrunch

Future Plans

Mint has worked in recent years to upgrade its offerings in order to best provide full service personal finance management to its customers. According to the company press page, Mint expanded its platform offerings to include compatibility with the Apple Watch in 2015 and launched a bill pay service in 2016. However, the company announced plans to discontinue its bill pay service in June of 2018 due to a lack of sufficient interest among users. For the time being, it appears that Mint has no public plans to launch major new initiatives, instead focusing on continuing to provide its existing services as efficiently and easily as possible.

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.