Intuit opens financial data service APIs to developers

Got an idea for a killer personal or small business finance application? Intuit is opening the door for third-party developers with the APIs to its financial data service in the U.S. and Canada. These APIs will provide developers with the same aggregation and categorization data services that power Intuit's Quicken, QuickBooks and Mint.com.

"Access to reliable financial data is among the biggest challenges developers face when working to innovate," says Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com and vice president of Product Innovation at Intuit. "These new APIs will accelerate the pace of development we'll see at startups looking to create new services for both individuals and businesses."

Intuit's data aggregation and categorization capabilities is what it uses to seamlessly collect, organize and manage consumers' and small businesses' financial information. The APIs are designed to provide access to more than 19,000 sources of personal and business banking, brokerage and investment accounts in the U.S.

"If you're an innovative developer with a creative idea to create a financial application for consumers and small businesses that relies on customer financial data, we're basically empowering that to happen in an efficient and reliable way," says Michael Grossman, vice president of marketing for Intuit's Financial Services Division. "One of the reasons for doing this is that we have the sense that if you let a thousand flowers bloom, you unleash creativity that we might never have thought of. My prediction is that we're going to be surprised."

Intuit APIs Form Cornerstone of SaveUp's Business

SaveUp, a San Francisco-based startup, is a prime example, says Sammy Shreibati, co-founder and CTO. SaveUp is a financial rewards program for good financial behaviors and actions. Essentially, you connect your accounts to SaveUp, which is then able to track when you save money or pay down debt. Shreibati says the credits are then used to play for prizes underwritten by sponsors. The prizes include everything from a $10,000 home and bedroom makeover to a vacation and even a $2 million jackpot. The company is currently advertising-driven and the service is completely free to SaveUp's users.

"These APIs are the key driver for what SaveUp is about," Shreibati says. "It's the cornerstone of how our product works."

"Intuit's service is easy to use and helps our customers securely access their data from just about any financial source you can think of through SaveUp," says Priya Haji, co-founder and CEO of SaveUp.

"We're then able to use this information to track our customers' smart financial actions and reward them accordingly," Haji says. "This data service has helped us build a better tool to help people save more and have fun while doing it. To date, more than $100 million in savings and $90 million in debt payments have been registered in SaveUp from financial institutions across the U.S."

SaveUp uses the SOAP-based APIs provided by Intuit to connect to Intuit's backend financial data service. Shreibati notes that when users log on to SaveUp, it passes their credentials through the API to Intuit.

"We let Intuit deal with it," he says.

Shreibati adds that two engineers were able to prototype the service in about a month, and it was production-ready in about two months.

While Intuit is striving to make leveraging its APIs as simple as possible for developers, there will be a few hoops to jump through.

"We need to make sure that this is done in a careful, secure and legally compliant way," Grossman says. "Part of the signup process and the ongoing relation with the developer involves a bit of scrutiny of the developer. There's a fairly rigorous screening that they have to go through to show they're a responsible partner and will be leveraging this data responsibly."

"For all of our partners we go through security checks inside the application and work with the partner to make sure that holes they may not have even known about are closed up," adds Alex Chriss, director of the Intuit Partner Platform.

Intuit will make the APIs to its financial data service available on a limited basis through the Intuit Partner Platform in October, with wider availability coming in December.

Thor Olavsrud covers IT Security, Big Data, Open Source, Microsoft Tools and Servers for CIO.com. Follow Thor on Twitter @ThorOlavsrud. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Thor at tolavsrud@cio.com

Read more about finance in CIO's Finance Drilldown.

This story, "Intuit opens financial data service APIs to developers" was originally published by CIO.

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