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November 17, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

Personal finance software market leader Intuit Inc has launched the French version of Quicken, which it expects to duplicate the phenomenal success it has experienced in the German market since its launch 18 months ago. In Paris for the announcement, chief executive Scott Cook recounted that at the time of Quicken’s introduction to the German market, there were two personal finance packages on the market – Wiso, from the leader in German tax software, and Microsoft Money. And MS Money was linked to all of the banks’ payment system via an agreement with Deutsche Telekom! he said, adding that the two packages split monthly sales of 5,000 units per month. Three months after Quicken’s launch, he said, the market had tripled to 14,000 units per month and Quicken became the leading Windows application. And I’m sad to report that our competitors did not share in our success, he quipped. Cook attributes his product’s runaway success to extensive customisation. The model of just translating software doesn’t work with personal finance. Quicken for France, for example, was designed and programmed in France, he said. As a result, the Quicken 4.0 sold in France includes specifically French financial functions such as debit credit cards, Minitel emulation, VAT management, automatic bank transfer print-outs, and fiscal declarations. It also uses the French method for noting numbers, which is the inverse of the Anglo-Saxon method, with commas used where periods are, and vice versa. That, in particular, is a detail very important to us! said Guy Berruyer, chief executive of Intuit France. Cook says Intuit’s business model is consumer-, not technology-driven. We started usability testing 12 years ago, and I can assure you, engineers do not go to engineering school only to have their work critiqued by housewives, but that’s how we do things as well as we do.

Signed up five banks

He said Intuit France is independently responsible for product design, engineering, marketing and support. Despite an as yet moderate level – 10% – of personal computer penetration into 22m French homes, Berruyer said the potential market is already respectably large: 50% of those home personal computer users want to manage their personal finances from their personal computers, so we have a potential market already of 1m homes, he said. Also, 30% of France’s 2.5m small companies are equipped with personal computers, making a total of 750,000 potential sites. Intuit France has also signed up five banks – Banque Directe, Credit du Nord, CCF, Credit Mutuel and BICS-Banque Populaire – to offer its Intellibanque personal computer-based banking services via its Concorde subsidiary. Concorde was originally set up as a joint venture with Axime SA, France’s leading systems integration house for the banking, finance and insurance market. Shortly after the announcement, however, the two called off the joint venture in favour of a more discreet partnership. Cook and Roger Bass, manager at Intuit France of banking telematics, both insist the change had nothing to do with Axime’s expertise or with any dissatisfaction with Axime as a partner. It had more to do with our inexperience in doing business in France. As we developed the platform, it just became clear that it wasn’t necessary for Axime to be a financial partner. Contractually, it was easier for clients to work just with us, but the system is still run by Axime in France and by us in the US, he said. For its part, Axime said it was preferable not to be tied to a single system vis-a-vis their banking clients. In fact, said Bass, the demise of the joint venture won’t change operations. The operator of the back-end structure for bank services will be handled by Intuit’s Quicken. Quicken costs $62 but will be sold for $20 until December 22 in French retail and consumer electronics outlets.

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