US-based Intuit Inc has launched a personal finance software package for Indians. Umang Bedi, MD, talks about the company’s plans for India with Moneylife’s Pallabika Ganguly
Pallabika Ganguly (ML): How do you plan to market Intuit products in India?
Umang Bedi (UB): We believe in customer delight and we believe that happy customers are the biggest marketing vehicle for us. We are mostly marketing ourselves by word-of-mouth that is the strongest (strategy). When we launched our beta version, 87% out of the early 5,000 users said friends and family recommended them this product. But we are also looking at building partnerships with financial institutions.
ML: How much have you invested in India?
UB: In the last four years, we have invested $45 million in India.
ML: What was the thinking behind this financial software designed for India?
UB: We did a survey of available products and their pros and cons. We found that many people were finding it difficult to manage their own money. Even for cash assessment, if people think that they have a certain amount of money, there would always be a difference of 20% to 30% with that figure. The survey also showed us that people were struggling to find out their net-worth at any given time and had to calculate it manually or by using Excel sheets. This was the starting point in launching Intuit Money Manager. We developed it and thought that we would take this money manager to the masses in India.
ML: What was the method that you followed for your survey?
UB: We did a research-based survey called ‘Follow me home’ with around 1,000 customers. We went to their homes, offices and observed them contextually. That is, we did not ask any questions and simply observed their means of managing finances. That helped us to identify the pain-point while managing finances, which the customer does not realise.
We did the survey in four segments—25 years-30 years (single income); 30years-40years (people who may be married, with kids) and (people who were) 40 years plus. We concentrated on these three segments and women separately to observe the gender difference (in attitudes towards money management). We found similar pain-points with all (segments).
The survey also showed that people from the first group (25 years-30 years) usually end up cashless by the 20th of every month. This leads them to either borrow money from someone, or pay bills late, etc. While people in the age group of 30 years-40 years were looking to invest their money, people above the 40-year age group were busy looking at returns. However, this group was finding it most difficult to keep track of investments and returns.
ML: Before launching the software, how did you conduct the beta test?
UB: We did a beta test with moneycontrol.com over the last four-and-a-half months. We had put up a small banner on the site asking if people would like to opt for the money manager. If people opted for the same, we requested them to fill in nine details. In 48 hours, we had over 15,000 people opting for our software. After the beta test, we went live in early January and in ten days, we had 10,500 people regularly using the software.
ML: What are the advantages of using the software?
UB: The product is a smarter way to manage your finances. It provides you with a single window to aggregate all your financial information across disparate financial institutions in one place and then provides you intelligence in the form of tools on how to plan your money and keep a track on your spending. For example, one of my colleagues likes to dine outside, so on Saturdays and Sundays he eats all his meals outside home. When he logged into the money manager for the first time and put the details of his finances and expenses, he found that during the last six months, he had spent more than Rs1 lakh just for dining outside home. He realised that he needs to cut down on dining out so as to save money for the future.
ML: How will the software store the details of cash spending?
UB: For cash, you have either have to manually enter the information or submit it when you withdraw cash from any source, let’s say an ATM. The software stores this information and allows you to split it into different segments according to your spending. This way you get a chance to break one transaction (cash withdrawals from ATMs), into multiple transactions.
ML: Do you think the software will be economical for Indians?
UB: The product comes with a 90-day free trial. After that period, if you like, you can enrol for subscription for as low as Re 1 per day or Rs365 per annum. But if you want to subscribe within 15 days of trial, there is a special rate of Rs249 per annum. I think one rupee a day for managing your finances is quite economical.
ML: What are your growth plans over the next three years?
UB: About 20 million out of 50 million internet users are using Internet banking today and the number of Internet banking customers is growing at about 30% per annum. We see the gap being bridged. Therefore, over the next three to five years, we may be able to reach millions of people.