Last week, Microsoft took advantage of several updates of its various software to review its Office 365 offer. From now on, its ecosystem is available in a pack called Microsoft 365, available under two different subscriptions: Personal and Family.
In addition to the fact that the new features complement the use for work with that for personal life, it was also the occasion for Microsoft to launch a new service in partnership with the financial services company Plaid. Microsoft takes a step into fintech, and offers “Money in Excel.”
If you want to find more information about the partnership between Microsoft and the fintech company Plaid, download our companion app, Born2Invest. Our app brings you the most important business headlines from the world’s most trusted sources in a single place, for you to stay informed.
Fintech in Microsoft’s sights
Microsoft and Plaid worked together to facilitate the export of banking data into Excel. Thanks to new legislation and new technologies favoring “open banking,” it is now possible to use statistical data generated by Excel to process one’s banking data.
On its blog, the Californian company Plaid – acquired by Visa last January – published an article explaining its partnership with Microsoft and the benefits of its new functionality.
“Money in Excel transforms the software into a fintech application,” said Marc Andrusko, a former Goldman Sachs employee who has been working at Plaid for a year. The company is now a reference in banking data, as it sells its financial data network to the biggest names in finance.
In essence, Money in Excel “allows users to securely connect their financial accounts, import the data they contain, synchronize balances and transactions over time and, ultimately, better understand their financial health,” explained Marc Andrusko on Plaid’s website. A classic service for the company, but one that comes here to connect to a powerful and well-known software, Excel.
Targeting the right clients is very important
On Monday, April 6th, Microsoft announced details about the release of its new functionality as part of its new Microsoft 365 offering. Users will be able to use the services offered by Plaid by subscribing to the Personal subscription at $7.62 (€6.99) per month (or $75 (€69) per year), or to the Family subscription at $11 (€9.99) per month (or $107 (€99) per year). Accessing the service will not be followed by a financial surcharge, the price of classic subscriptions already includes the functionality.
In an article published on the Forbes website, fintech journalist and author Ron Shevlin expressed doubts about Microsoft’s strategy. In addressing individuals, he fears that the functionality will be under-used. Microsoft would have the wrong customers, while small businesses would be more interested in such a tool. Indeed, individuals are already spoilt for choice with financial tools that categorize expenses and allow them to separate their different budgets. This is particularly the case for neo-banks and online banking.
“There is a better market for Microsoft and Plaid with Money in Excel: Small Businesses,” the journalist said, citing the mixed opinion of Bryan Clagett, director of strategic initiatives at StrategyCorps. According to him, “this feature in Excel makes more sense for small businesses than for consumers. Consumers don’t care about tracking their spending behavior, while small businesses do. Moreover, small businesses are already closely linked to the Microsoft ecosystem.”
Microsoft is facing increasing competition from new tools, and its software such as Office and Excel is on a downward slope in use. A partnership like the one with Plaid is an excellent opportunity. Autobooks, which works in the integration of financial management tools for businesses, also acknowledges what sounds like poor targeting: “Microsoft and Plaid would have been inundated with customers if they had recognized the needs of small businesses.” Nothing is too late, however, and one can well imagine that Microsoft is naturally considering this opportunity.
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First published in PRESSECITRON, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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