Wednesday, July 28, 2010

#intuitpaymentsolutionsfail

Yesterday I went looking for an alternative to PayPal.  It's not that I dislike PayPal exactly.  It's more like it's a pain in the ass.  Because I'm a QuickBooks user, I want everything I do to work seamlessly with QuickBooks, and if you've ever used the PayPal QuickBooks wizard, I'm sure the word "seamless" never entered your mind.

You see, QuickBooks could have embraced PayPal and made life easy for PayPal users.  Or PayPal could have embraced QuickBooks and made life easier for its users.  After all QuickBooks interfaces with literally hundreds (thousands?) of financial institutions.  You think it couldn't have interfaced easily with PayPal?  I certainly think it could have.  But it did not.  And why not?  Well, I always presumed it was because QuickBooks had its own merchant services division for processing credit cards and, now, e-checks.  Intuit has never made it easier for any other credit-card company to interface with QB.  After all, they have a captive marketplace.  If you want it to be easy, then you must go with Intuit (and I don't, so perhaps "easy" is an exaggeration; I don't have first-hand experience).  Hello FTC!  Surely there's an anti-trust case to be made here.  Surely Intuit should be forced to remove its built-in credit-card processing options and be force to have clunky and unstable external plug-ins.  Either that, or make it easier to use third-party credit-card processing within the program.

Okay, I'm digressing, because I said I was looking for an option outside of PayPal, and I found an interesting one at https://paymentnetwork.intuit.com/.  This appears to be a beta, since I could find no links from the Intuit home page to this site and literally got there by accident.  But I went through the sign-up process, which I found fairly detailed and certainly more so than PayPal's, but perhaps that's because I signed up with PayPal a while back and regulations have gotten more stringent.  This new Intuit product is pretty straight-forward.  Hook up your bank account and you can send money to anyone for free and they pay only 50 cents to receive it.  Don't want to pay wire fees?  This could be a great solution.

Alas, it doesn't quite seem to work.  Today, I can't log on.  Oh, and you can't process credit cards.  It's strictly about moving cash from person A to person B using email and the web.  Where it beats PayPal, theoretically, is that uses your own bank account(s).  Right now, when I get a credit card payment via PayPal, I have to transfer the money to my bank account.  With IPS, I don't have to do that and, according to their website, I can download all transactions to QB.  And according to one rep I spoke with, this product will be integrated into QB in the future.

But, wait, isn't QB integrating Direct Deposit for vendors into QB, charging the same soon-to-be $1.25 per transaction?  And IPS is only 50 cents per transaction and only for the recipient.  Sending is free!  Hmm, methinks the right hand knoweth not what the left hand be doing-ith.

Intuit has failed to add genuine breakthrough functionality to QB for years.  Sure, it has tweaked and streamlined, but there hasn't been a game-changer.  With IPS and Direct Deposit for Vendors in QB, there's real potential, but QB must make it cost-effective for QB users and they must be more cost effective than the competition, which they have not been.  Consumables (e.g., checks, deposit slips) cost more through Intuit than Costco or other check-supplies companies.  Merchant processing costs more through QB than through PayPal.  To be a game-changer, making payments via QB must be less expensive and less time-consuming than using a printed check and mailing it.  So add the costs of printing, the cost of the check, the cost of the envelope, and the cost of the stamp, and be cheaper.  Hmm.  Fifty cents seems about right.  But I couldn't log on today, so that's officially wasted quite a bit of my valuable time.  And that doesn't seem right.

So, right now, since I've taking up twittering...I mean tweeting, I'm going to introduce a new hash tag:  #intuitpaymentsolutionsfail.  Because if users can't log on and you cost more than the competition in either fees or time, you've failed, baby.  Spectacularly.

Z

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