|By Jim Bruene on March 8, 2010 3:15 PM | Comments (4)|
During 2008, we tracked more than a dozen new PFM launches. But it's been quiet since then. The last major launch was Thrive (now part of Lending Tree) at Finovate 2008. However, with Mint exiting with a $100+ million gain late last year, the space is bound to heat up again.
It's not like there isn't room for quite a few entrants. The United States supports 15,000 banks and credit unions; there's no reason why there won't be dozens of successful PFMs.
The latest entrant, HelloWallet officially launched today (press release). While its features are similar to others, it has one claim to fame that's tough to beat, an endorsement from a former U.S. president. According to a Sep. 2009 BusinessWeek article, Bill Clinton, singled out HelloWallet in his address to the $20,000-per person Global Initiative event in September.
The for-profit site founded by former Brookings Institute fellow, Matt Fellowes (Brookings archive; inset with Bill Clinton), has attracted the attention of both politicians and foundations with its mission to:
...democratize access to honest, high-quality financial guidance for everyone.
HelloWallet appears to be an advertising-free business model with moderate $5/mo (or $48 annually) fees covering its costs. It's also being distributed free-of-charge through institutional partners such as The Rockefeller Foundation.
The startup has pledged to give away one subscription to a lower-income family for every five paid ones. That's a smart strategy, especially when what is being given has essentially zero marginal cost to deliver. HelloWallet's features include:
- full account aggregation so you can track all your financial accounts from one dashboard
- financial tools for investing, saving, reducing bank fees, and so on
- banking price comparisons
- budgeting tools
- bank-fee and credit-card-APR monitoring services
- goal-based savings
My take: I kicked the tires a bit, successfully setting up automated access to my checking account, and manually adding a few more assets. But the site was a little buggy today, hitting me with error messages and delivering dead links, so I'll hold off judgement until they get things stabilized. But it looks like a well-funded and promising effort so far.
HelloWallet homepage on launch day (8 Mar. 2010)
Note: For more information on the PFM space, see our Online Banking Report on Personal Finance Features.
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