[Update: As of May 2013, Pageonce has officially changed the name of its app and service to Check.] For more than a decade, I was a faithful user of Quicken, Intuit’s desktop personal finance program. I stopped using it in 2008 after Mint.com came along, giving me the ability to monitor all my accounts from one simple, attractive, mobile-friendly app.
It wasn’t long before Intuit acquired Mint.com, so the company didn’t really lose me as a customer. And they still haven’t. Each spring, I use TurboTax to complete my federal and state tax returns. (The new iPad version of TurboTax works great, by the way—I finished my taxes in about two hours on Super Bowl Sunday.)
But I’ve now stopped using Mint.com as well, and I’ll tell you why: Pageonce came along, giving me the ability to monitor all my accounts from an even simpler, more mobile-friendly—and most importantly, more technically robust—app.
I sat down with Pageonce founder and CEO Guy Goldstein a few weeks ago to get the full story behind the Palo Alto, CA-based startup, which has 60 employees and has raised $25 million from Morgenthaler Ventures and Pitango Venture Capital. But before I tell you about the company, I want to say a little more about their app, and why I think it now outshines Mint.com in the usability department.
The great thing about Mint.com, when it first appeared in late 2007, was that it showed you all of your checking, savings, credit card, loan, and investment accounts in one place: the Mint.com website. Working with a financial data aggregator called Yodlee, Mint.com was able to grab updated account information automatically, every time you visited the site. It built on that data by alerting you about low balances, helping you track your spending by category, and showing you offers for lower-interest-rate credit cards and other financial products. Mint.com’s website and its iPhone app, which appeared in late 2008, were widely praised for their fresh, engaging design.
The trouble, for me, began about 18 months after the Intuit acquisition, when the Mint.com team decided to stop using Yodlee as their data provider and switch to Intuit’s own back end. The reasoning behind the change was understandable, but for users, it was a huge pain. I remember having to re-enter the usernames and passwords for all of my financial accounts. In several cases duplicate accounts showed up that I couldn’t figure out how to delete. As a result, Mint.com was telling me I had a lot more money than I actually had.
And after the switchover, the app never really seemed the same. Every time I logged in, there would be multiple “issues” requiring my attention—usually connections with bank or credit card accounts that had broken and needed to be manually repaired by reentering a password or secret answer. It was exhausting. I was spending more time fixing things in Mint.com than actually monitoring my finances.
I was ready to try any new finance app that could spare me these data-connection hassles. So when Rebecca Lynn at Morgenthaler Ventures told me about Pageonce, one of the companies in her portfolio, I was eager to check it out.
Pageonce works across multiple devices (the Web, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 and 8, and Blackberry) and is exceedingly simple—or at least, the part users see is simple. You start by supplying Pageonce with the login credentials for your financial accounts and your regular household accounts, such as your cable, electric, gas, and wireless bills. The application then pulls all the updated balances together into a dashboard that summarizes your financial situation in one glance. It shows your total cash and investment account balances, the amount you owe on your credit cards, and alerts about things like large bank or credit transactions.
You can also dive deeper into each area, and check the balances of your individual checking, savings, and credit accounts. You can see which bills are coming up soon—and, even better, you can pay them from within the app. Pageonce shows the balance on investment accounts such as your 401(k) or IRA, and how your holdings break down within those accounts.
Finally, the application shows you financial offers tailored to your situation, such as credit card offers. Pageonce itself is free, so the lead-generation fees on these offers are how the company makes money. The startup also offers a credit score reporting service called Pageonce Credit Guard for $6.99 a month.
There are no fancy categorization or budgeting tools, though there is a very basic pie chart tool that compares your spending on utilities, insurance, interest, and the like. There’s also a cool feature called “File Cabinet” that stores copies of your past bank statements and utility bills. And that’s about it.
Goldstein, the Pageonce founder and CEO, says his philosophy about personal-finance apps is simple. “People are struggling with their money and they really need help,” he says. “We give them a solution to track everything and help them with their day-to-day finances,” so they can avoid late fees and other hazards.
And so far, consumers and mobile-industry observers are loving it. Some 8 million people have registered to use Pageonce. CNNMoney called it the “Cadillac of money management apps,” Apple named it a “Staff Favorite” app in November 2011, and the current version of the app gets five stars, on average, from reviewers in the iTunes App Store. That’s a much better showing than the latest version of Mint.com, which gets three stars.
The design of Pageonce isn’t as warm or inviting as that of Mint.com, but what’s far more important to me is that … Next Page »
Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast