qiao8ao-logoMint, a 38-person staff startup offering free online personal finance service is recently acquired by Intuit. The acquisition is valued $170 million. A big win to Mint’s 28 years old CEO, Aaron Patzer, and is also an encouragement to tens of other free online personal finance service, including Qian8ao, the leading Chinese service which already claims 1.5 million users.

Like Mint, Qian8bao also focus on free online personal finance service with which users can manage and track their expense, earning, do budget planning etc. If we compare its features with Mint, obviously Qian8bao still needs lots of work to catch up with Mint. However, after my try of Qian8ao, I got the feeling that Mint is a truly SaaS, but Qiao8ao seems walking towards another direction, which I would like to describe it, online money management with social approach.

On Qiao8ao, the user can decide to share the stuff she spent money on with friends. Talked to YU Zhan, the founder of Qiao8ao, I like what he and his team is trying to achieve. Qian8ao right now is a simple online finance service, but it could be a social e-commerce service as well: You know how much your friend spent on certain product which you want too and you can also instantly be aware that if you still have the budget for this month. It sounds like a social shopping site, such as Taojianghu, the Taobao’s SNS, but note that it won’t (and probably never will) offer you the money management tool.

MOBINODE.tv did an interview with YU Zhan days ago, and you can understand the ideas behind Qiao8ao in more detail via this video clip:

Looking closely into Mint’s features, deadly simple money management on your home loan, stock, purchase etc and automatically update and sync with your bank, credit cards etc. Mint truly deserves it. If Qian8ao wants to catch up with Mint, it probably needs better engineers to nicely implement YU’s ideas, as well as a good environment:

  1. Online banking is always so frustrating for me in China. Only Internet Explorer works and you also need install ActiveX plugin, a usb-key for security and identity. Wants to find a way to sync your bank account with third party? Forget about it! The environment does not help on those startups in this market at all.
  2. Most of us are not ready for online personal tools, even me I don’t. It probably is the reason why Qian8ao does not position it as a Tool/Software, but an online service. Implementing Social features is good and cook, suitable for Chinese, but be careful, don’t compromise with it. Improving the finance management is alway the no.1 task.

Qian8ao might not be the next Mint in near future, but if you see the trend of the market and people’s online behavior, you will understand the reason of its existence, won’t you?