Intuit hopes to persuade Canadian banks to open up their data

The company behind QuickBooks and Turbo Tax is at the forefront of innovation in the financial sector

Credit: Intuit QuickBooks CA on Twitter

Jeff Cates, president of Intuit Canada (left), and CIBC senior executive vice-president Deepak Khandelwal

The company behind QuickBooks and TurboTax is trying to partner with banks to help small businesses

Jeff Cates talks fast, but you’ll want to listen to what he has to say.

The president of Toronto-headquartered Intuit Canada ULC (a subsidiary of Intuit Inc., based in California) has overseen a breakthrough in Canada’s financial sector since the company brought him on in 2011.

For starters, Intuit negotiated with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to open up its data so it could be seamlessly linked with the company’s bookkeeping software.

“CIBC is the first bank in Canada that said, ‘We’re going to open up the data so it automatically goes into QuickBooks,'” Cates said at the Vancouver Convention Centre’s QuickBooks Get Connected event. “So now there’s no breakages or double entries. That’s super important because the banking industry was largely a closed box before. So for them to open up and embrace fintech is really important.”

In other countries like the U.K. and the U.S., governments have forced banks to make client data available so customers can use tools like QuickBooks to manage their books with ease, Cates noted. Canada’s banks had long been hesitant to adopt such a position, and so far, they haven’t been pushed to do it.

“We’re going to the banks and saying, ‘Hey, you should open up your data before you get forced to,'” Cates explained. “And so the initial conversation with the banks was, ‘Why would we give you our data?’ And we said, ‘Well, it’s not your data; it’s the customers’ data. You’re the stewards of the customers’ data.’ So the question should be, ‘Is this in the benefit of your customers?'”

CIBC joined forces with Intuit because the bank saw the advantage of a partnership that would give it access to extra QuickBooks data, Cates noted. “That was the aha moment for them: ‘So we can lend to smaller businesses that are in the earlier stage because now we have information directly form QuickBooks,'” he said. “That was part of how we got CIBC over the line, and as soon as the first banks go, the rest are all like, ‘OK, we need to move faster.'”

A recent survey sponsored by Intuit noted that 61 percent of Canadian small businesses use automated technology to help run their companies.

Though Cates won’t name institutions, he says talks with another Canadian bank are nearing completion, and he anticipates having three in the fold by the end of the year.

“The conversations are getting easier,” he said. “Now we just need to make sure it’s the right time and the relationship is secured.”