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Credit Karma Expands Its Scope of Action

Credit Karma is expanding its scope of services far beyond its original offering of free credit scores to Americans.

Original text here from Patrice Bernard (LinkedIn)

Credit Karma is expanding its scope of services far beyond its original offering of free credit scores to Americans. In the 15 years since its inception, and especially after being acquired by Intuit in 2020, Credit Karma has developed a comprehensive personal finance management solution. This expansion includes a wealth management component, thanks to its integration with Mint, another Intuit subsidiary and a pioneer in the field.

This evolution seems natural. Credit Karma, leveraging its credit analysis expertise (which remains a core part of its identity) and understanding the diverse behaviors of its 120 million users, provides personalized recommendations. These suggestions help users manage their checking accounts, savings, credit cards, loans, and more, increasingly leading them to accumulate wealth.

The goal is to offer services that match their users' financial success and extend Credit Karma's initial mission. Initially, only individuals with an "official" credit score above 720, considered a success indicator, will have access to these services. For now, the service is limited to consolidating components of their wealth (mainly investments and liabilities like mortgages) into a unified dashboard.

Gradually, recognizing that there's no minimum threshold to start building wealth, Credit Karma plans to democratize access to these features. This includes adding more support services. The company's strategy seems to continue focusing on suggesting partner products linked to its recommendations, encouraging and facilitating user actions.

However, one can't overlook that commissions from these referrals likely form a cornerstone of Credit Karma's business model. This might even be its decisive advantage over Mint, which, with 15 years of experience, seemed a natural choice for developing an extensive personal finance management platform. It raises the question of whether profitability is taking precedence.

This is crucial because it brings up vital concerns about Credit Karma's core operations. Dependence on promoted service providers might cast doubts on its objectivity and affect user trust (though this risk seems under control for now). It might also subtly influence their advisory mechanisms, potentially compromising service quality.

One thing is clear: the Personal Financial Management (PFM) concept, despite being several decades old, is still evolving and searching for its identity. More players are realizing that PFM must combine personalization, prediction, and operational support, but actualizing these principles remains a challenge.

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