Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mint not ready to scale?

After reading much blogging about TechCrunch 40 by others, and listening to many people talking excitedly about Mint, I wanted to see for myself what the buzz is all about.

So I signed up on their website to be notifed when the service goes live - and today at 3:39 pm (EST) I received an e-mail with the subject "Mint.com is now live!". Shortly thereafter I went to Mint.com to check it out....

It's a pretty website design, for sure. But it was excruciatingly slow during the registration phase, and trying to set up my bank accounts I got nothing but trickle-filling progress bars for any bank that I tried to set up (and I do indeed have real accounts on those and entered my real user-ids to test this) - and after several minutes (must have been about 10-15 or so) I got this result:

Not very impressive. I guess they have some scalability issue...


FIRE Finance said...

We faced similar problems at Mint today. Perhaps their server is overloaded. But if this is their performance story, they won't find too many users!

Mr. Gunn said...

It's not a scaling issue, it's a maintenance issue. They have literally thousands of banks and billers and credit card companies and investment firms in the database, and even if the average time between log-on process changes was a year, that would still leave them dealing with 2 or 3 updates every day. It's usually not a big deal for Yodlee, because they can just tweak a line or two of code in their database, but if Mint depends on them making the fixes and then shipping them out, they're in for big trouble.

If you take a look at the Yodlee forums(Yodlee is the company that makes the software that Mint is using, but they have their own service, too), you can see that account update issues are a constant problem. When ING changed their login process last year, everyone who had an ING account in Yodlee could no longer update it until they rewrote the login routine for ING. It was two weeks before I could update my accounts.

The next time something changes, that will happen all over again, and it will be worse for Mint, because they'll have to wait until Yodlee updates the code, then ships it out to them and all the other banks that use it.

Robert Bousquet said...

Have you seen our Electric CheckBook entry for RailsRumble07? It was completely designed and built during the 48-hour Rails competition.

Its flexible double-entry ledgers can be shared within a group enabling remote partners, your accountant and spouse to share access to the appropriate accounts without emailing files back and forth.

Mint is obviously a bit more mature, but ours was designed, developed and launched in 48 hours. It has already replaced Quickbooks for our small distributed team and handles our accounting, project budgeting, and contractor timesheets. We'll continue to add features that we need to manage our personal and business finances.

A.Falk said...

Yes, the maintenance issue is a long-term consideration, and I agree that it will be a difficult challenge for them. However, one would assume that on the launch day they would have at least tested the top 10-20 banks that they have on their short list (such as American Express credit cards, Bank of America, Citibank).
The fact that neither one of those worked for me (but did work for beta testers before the site went live) - combined with the horribly slow performance of the web pages loading - points more to a scalability issue being the current source of problems for them.