As an integrated fintech company, Intuit seems to be firing on all cylinders. Its QuickBooks product helps millions of businesses manage their finances. More than 240 million invoices are created by QuickBooks Online customers each year. Around this core data, the company has built an ecosystem of products and services that includes payments and lending.
And that boatload of invoices created by QBO? Only 14 percent of them are payment enabled, which means there’s way more opportunity ahead to help SMBs with cashflow issues and missed payments.
Rania Succar serves as Intuit’s head of Quickbooks Capital and Payments, two of the company’s most innovative and growth products. She leads the company’s efforts to innovate in payments, pitting it head-to-head with companies like PayPal and Square.
Rania joins us on the Tearsheet Podcast to discuss the connection at Intuit between payments and capital. We drill down into Intuit’s small business strategy and what’s powering the company’s growth.
The following excerpts were edited for clarity.
What was the transition like for you to go from Google to Intuit?
It’s been incredibly fun. What’s unique about Intuit is the obsession over the customer problem. I dove into a big, unsolved problem. First, I joined Intuit to oversee our work on the capital side — to help small businesses get access to capital. Now, I also help businesses get paid, moving away from chasing their customers for payment.
I’ve always been passionate about economic development and creating opportunity for people. I did that with McKinsey in the Middle East and also at the Kennedy School of Government. I was excited to come in and make material, technology-driven improvements for small businesses — that’s been a really fun space.
You head up two units: Capital and Payments. Is there a strategic connection there?
It’s a super strategic combination. It comes down to the way we deeply understand the customer problem. When we got to the heart of understanding payments and lending, we understood that the deep problem for small businesses is cash flow. Most small businesses have opportunities to grow, but the delta between the 45 days to get paid after you do the work and the need to pay contractors and employees before you start the work — this all translates to cash flow problems for small businesses.
We stepped back at Intuit to solve this in a different way. We realized that we could put our money movement offerings together — capital and payments — and get to the heart of the cash flow problem. We could start to help businesses understand cash flow, offer them loans to smooth cash flow as they waited to get paid. It all comes together to solve the problem in a different way.
Does QuickBooks Capital include only your own sources of capital?
Intuit has a strategy that I love: an open platform. Small businesses generally use 15 to 16 different apps to run their businesses. They want to bring them all together to make sense of it all. The nice things about QuickBooks is that they connect all their apps and all that data comes together seamlessly. We can innovate on top of that data to benefit small businesses.
In the case of capital, we want to offer the best solutions for small businesses. QBO customers can use the data in their accounts to get funding from other lenders. In other cases, we can offer funding directly. It complements — some times, small businesses want longer term or asset-backed loans and they’ll turn to outside partners on our marketplace. Other times, they’ll need short term working capital loans and we can service them directly.
What are the biggest trends you’re seeing?
We’re seeing the power of data to drive innovation in everything related to money for small businesses. If you think about it, we have the largest ecosystem of small business data. On the capital side, it allows us to lend to underserved small businesses where other lenders struggle to understand their creditworthiness. 60 percent of the businesses we’ve leant to so far wouldn’t have been able to get a loan from another lender.
We’re also seeing a trend to putting all of this together, to automate running a small business. This looks like a world where you sign up once — not three times — and you get a payroll account, payments account, capital account. It’s all seamless. It just comes by signing up to QuickBooks.
We also see a world where smart predictions are possible for small businesses. We can tell a customer when it’s a good time to stock up on inventory because the season looks strong and you have enough cash flow to do it. We are working on this in a big way. We launched QuickBooks Assistant recently where you can ask a voice-activated assistant questions about your business. We’re also seeing smart predictions coming out of our lending algorithm because we’re looking at this data to issue our own credit. So, we can tell a business owner that we expect his business to pick up because of all the things we know about his business and other ones similar to it.