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Users lose when finance apps vanish

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

© Levent Konuk/Shutterstock.com
Nice app ya got there. It makes your financial life easier, you say? You're glad you invested the time to get it up and running with all your personal financial information, you say? Don't get too comfortable. Apps go bust or get acquired by larger companies all the time, often leaving users out in the cold.

Just this month, Manilla, a popular bill management app beloved by Bankrate's own Crissinda Ponder, was pulled from app stores. The service announced it will be officially shutting down June 1, and will delete all user documents by Sept. 30. Why? According to a company press release, Manilla "was unable to achieve the scale necessary to make the economics of the business viable," causing Hearst Publishing, the app's "incubator," to pull the plug.

Of course, the continued boom in the app market means there's an alternative to take its place; we're planning on reviewing another bill manager app, Mobilligy, soon. But there's almost always decent effort required to get financial apps to be really useful, and all those who dutifully plugged their bill details into Manilla and depended on it to make payments were let down by the move.

Users of the popular app Check (formerly Pageonce) should also be worried. Intuit, which previously paid $170 million for Mint, announced it had bought the company behind Check for $360 million. A spokeswoman for Intuit says the company has no plans to sunset Check as a separate app, and that services and their credentials will remain the same going forward. My personal opinion is it's unlikely Intuit will keep both apps around as separate entities forever; users of Check will probably see their accounts rolled into Mint eventually.

It could be worse -- Cha-Ching, another personal finance app whose founders were hired by Intuit, was withdrawn from the app store soon after.

There's not much consumers can do about these sorts of shakeups except hope that their favorite app doesn't get closed down or ruined, and if it does, move onto the next. Favoring apps from your bank or some other established company may be the only way to avoid losing out in the hurly-burly of the app market. That's a shame, because many of the coolest and most innovative financial apps are often put out by ambitious new startups.

What do you think? Are you a former Manilla user or current Check user? How do you feel about what happened?

Looking for an app that keeps track of bills, bank accounts and credit cards? Read our review of Check.

Follow me on Twitter: @claesbell.

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