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Intuit Buys Technology To Accelerate Mobile Expansion

By Steven D. Jones Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Intuit Inc. (INTU) expanded its mobile strategy Monday, buying the Web banking technology of Mobile Money Ventures for an undisclosed sum. Mountain View, Calif.-based Intuit, which streamlined tax preparation with TurboTax, is focusing next on making the phone a primary device for banking and processing transactions. Buying MMV gives Intuit ownership of all the technology used in Intuit mobile banking software that it provides to about 320 U.S. banks and credit unions. After the acquisition, Intuit will be able to better manage customer support and speed product development. "Bringing MMV's technology in-house will give us even more control over the support and design of our mobile Web offerings, and ultimately, we'll be able to bring new innovations to market faster," CeCe Morken, president of Intuit Financial Services, said in a written statement. The Intuit deal recognizes that people are beginning to make the smartphone the "remote control for their financial life," said Mark Schwanhausser, with Javelin Strategy & Research. Paying bills on a mobile device is common today and soon consumers will be able to use their phone as a debit card, simply passing it in front of a cash-register device to buy lunch or the week's groceries. To stay abreast of that change, Intuit has to continue innovating and buying MMV helps the company do that, said Schwanhausser. The mobile trend was evident in Intuit's most recent quarter when it reported the number of people using its online-banking service has doubled in the past year to 700,000, and Brad Smith, chief executive, said the company anticipated growth would continue. "We just have to continue to execute on the online banking and bill pay side. We have to continue to innovate with a better ease of use than any other alternative," Smith said during a May earnings call with analysts. Mobile Money Ventures, of San Mateo, Calif., was founded as a joint venture four years ago by Citigroup Inc. (C) and SK Telecom Americas, a unit of SK Telecom Co. (SKM, 017670.SE) of Seoul. An Intuit spokeswoman said the acquisition wouldn't have a material impact on Intuit's financial results and the company wouldn't comment further on details of the transaction. -By Steven D. Jones, Dow Jones Newswires; 360 834-1865;

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