Intuit makes Quicken and Quickbooks. I stopped using Quicken for Mac because it can’t import OFX files. Most banks have a way for you to download your transactions in the OFX format. Pretty much every piece of financial software in the world can handle OFX files, but not Quicken. I noticed that there is a new version of Quickbooks out that works on OS X and thought that surely it wouldn’t be crippled in this way. Shows how optimistic I am. It turns out it can’t handle OFX files either.
Here is what Intuit is doing. Rather than letting people import the files themselves, Quicken has found they can charge banks extra money to be Quicken/Quickbooks compatible. They take the OFX file from the institution, turn it into their own format. If someone buys their product and finds it can’t import transactions from their bank, Intuit can blame the bank and say that the bank doesn’t support the right format. Worse still, the charge the bank one fee to support the format their PC software uses, and another fee to support the software that their Mac software uses.
In reality, these formats are the same. Quickbooks and Quicken look at the file and see who it comes from. If it comes from a bank that hasn’t paid Intuit money, they return an error saying that the financial institution doesn’t support the right format or the platform (PC or Mac).
It is so frustrating to work with Intuit because they are taking something that should be an open standard and exploiting the banks by using their customers as leverage. If enough customers start complaining that the bank doesn’t support something, the bank will probably have to go ahead and pay Intuit. The customer on the other hand, buys a product that may or may not work with their bank. They can’t rely on open standards to give them compatibility.