Mint launches in Canada, competes with Wave Accounting

Canadians suddenly have a couple of options if they want their personal financial data crunched into polished pie charts and neat bar graphs.

Intuit Inc.’s Mint.com has now officially launched its Canadian site. The site is known in the U.S. for supplying millions of users with free budgeting tools delivered securely over the Web. The site will help you save to buy that new car, if you’re paying bank fees that are too high, or warn you if you’ve blown your budget by buying too much coffee, for example.

Founder Aaron Patzer, now a general manager at Intuit, was in Toronto yesterday for the launch.

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“You will find that if you log on to Mint today, you will be able to connect with all major financial institutions,” he says. “They are all working now.”

One ITBusiness.ca commenter had earlier pointed out that President’s Choice Financial wasn’t supported on Mint’s system. Mint has been slowly adding Canadian financial institutions to its back-end system since the summer. Now all of them should be working, Patzer says.

Mint’s entry into the Canadian marketplace pits it against Toronto-based competitor, Wave Accounting. Launched in mid-November, the service operates in Canada and the U.S., and offers similar budget tracking tools to Mint. The key difference is that it targets small business users, wheras Mint’s focus is on personal finance.

Kirk Simpson, CEO of Wave Accounting, downplayed Mint’s official launch in Canada.

“They’ve been informally here for some time,” he says. “We’re going after pretty different markets with different needs. They’re going after the consumer market… our core market is going after small business owners.”

Mint grew rapidly after its 2007 launch in the U.S. market, attracting 600,000 users in its first year. It has continuously doubled in users since then, Patzer says. It exited its start-up phase when it was acquired by Intuit in 2009, and is often pointed to as a small business success story.

“It’s been a wild ride,” Patzer says. He expects the service to be popular in Canada as well, and have “hundreds of thousands of users in a short time period.”

When asked, Patzer hadn’t heard of Wave Accounting. But he welcomed the competition.

“The more services that help people avoid high interest rates, high bank fees and stay on top of their personal finances, the better,” he says. “It’d like it to be us, but as long as we’re reducing the national debt load, that’s a good thing.”

Wave Accounting took inspiration from Mint, Simpson says. “We think they do an amazing job on the personal finance side.”

But Wave Accounting offers business functionality that Mint doesn’t, he adds. It features tax tracking tools specifically for business expenses. It will also soon feature integrations with other products, such as online invoicing service FreshBooks. That will be launching soon.

As for Mint, it has partnered with RateSuperMarket.ca to provide Canadian users with comparisons of various financial services, from GICs to life insurance.

Brian Jackson is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.

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