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Web 3.0 & MSN Money

Posted on Monday, Mar 19th 2007

We have been discussing the vertical segments that old media companies are losing to new media, and have focused on Personal Finance as an important category. We covered Yahoo from a Web 3.0 perspective earlier, and here we take a look at Microsoft’s offering.

MSN Money is the Personal Finance and Investing site of Microsoft. The site is an excellent resource for news and information and provides consumers with a number of financial services tools. The site is powered by Microsoft Money 2007, gets software and financial content from CNBC, a leading financial news channel. The main sub-categories of MSN Money are News, Banking, Investing, Planning, Tax, My Money, Portfolio, Loans, RSS and Insurance.

The site has tie-ups with State Farm, ShareBuilder, LendingTree, Countrywide, Quicken Loans, Fidelity Investments, Reuters, Financial Times, etc for financial content. MSN Money scores over most personal finance sites on financial and investing News as most of the content is from CNBC and the news and information is frequently updated. Like most other personal finance sites it provides mortgage rates, stock quotes , stock scouter and screening, insurance quotes, etc.

The site offers “Microsoft Money”, a personal finance application that allows users to manage household financial accounts and track a budget. Cnet rates it among the best personal finance applications. MSN Money also provides Bill Payment services for a monthly fee of $2.95 for the basic plan and $5.95 for the premium plan.

Banking allows users to avail various services like tracking accounts, bill payments, finding great credit card rates, applying for loans, comparing bank fees and services, budgeting, and applying for credit reports.

Similarly, the other sections of the site deal with different personal finance issues like Investing, Retirement, Tax, Insurance, etc in detail and has good contextual information and advice to aid a lay person understand, decide and manage finances.

MSN Money Community scores over Yahoo as the site provides Message Boards, Newsletters and RSS Feeds, which allow users to not only post questions but also interact and generate ideas and discuss a variety of personal finance issues and investments options. The message boards have different categories (YourMoney, WomenInRed, PoliticsandtheMarkets, etc).

MSN Money Investment Toolbox is a free service that allows users to track, screen, and manage one’s portfolio of investments (stocks, bonds, options). The software allows a very high level of customization to the users, and is a successful Software-As-A-Service implementation of Microsoft’s personal finance desktop application. Over time, however, they could go much further in this area.

Vertical Search
MSN Money offers vertical search option through its popular MSN Money Investment Toolbox, which allows users to screen stocks from more than 500 criteria. Stocks can be screened on the basis of Market Capitalization, ROE, EPS Growth, etc. It is a powerful tool that allows investors to focus their search and save it or export it to one’s portfolio or mail the result to a friend. Other kinds of Vertical Search can easily be added to extend the offering, and make it deeper and more compelling.

Business Model
MSN Money earns majority of its revenues from the advertisements. MSN Money has over 12.9 million unique users, and has ETrade, LendingTree, Intuit TurboTax, Quicken Loans, as advertisers.

Overall, our Web 3.0 rating is as follows: Context : A+, Content : A+, Commerce : A-, Community : A-, Personalization : B, Vertical Search : B.

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I could not understand the context part of the definition of Web3.0.

manish Monday, March 19, 2007 at 4:28 PM PT

Secondly, do you think is it possible for a new website (new startup)to achieve the level of web3.0. Or, in other world should a new website try to directly achieve the web3.0 standard, or just start from web 2.0.

manish Monday, March 19, 2007 at 4:30 PM PT

When I got my first PC, personal finance was one thing that I really wanted to use it for. I installed MSN Money (this was in 2002 sometime…) and went thru the pain of configuring everything. Problem is that after all that effort, I used it only very sparingly in the first month. After that I stopped the effort altogether.

The issue is that everybody would LIKE to track their personal finances using software. But very few of us have the disciplines to key in all our bills etc etc…

So I would think individual personal finance as a category is not something that has too much potential.

However, you have mentioned that MSN Money now has investment management features, which is completely different from personal finance. Investment management as a category has a lot of growth potential and promise, and if MSN focuses on that, they can make some headway. Problem is that Yahoo Finance is the elephant in this; but Google is making some serious headway. It will be tough to beat these 2, especially considering Microsoft’s execution capabilities in the online space. Look at the disaster that is Windows Live…

On a related note, you might want to check this post from an MSN Money developer (from 2004).

Arun Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 2:01 AM PT

Manish, Context is the reason or the intent that brings a user to a site. And in terms of new web sites achieving web 3.0, they could via mashups, licensings and partnerships, but by themselves may be a lot tougher due to cost issues. Sramana

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 11:19 AM PT


You are right to some extent. But banking and PF functions like bill payments, credit card payments, and investment management have become so standard now, that online PF is a more engaged audience than before. However, it is still very fragmented. I have to go to 5 different sites to do my transactions. The opportunity for the big players is to integrate all the interfaces to transactional PF.


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