An accounting software package developed and marketed by Intuit Inc., Quickbooks was first introduced in 1983. It is mainly geared towards small and medium enterprises and offers on-premises accounting applications. It also offers cloud-based versions that accept business payments, payroll functions and bill management and payment.
In June this year the company made a surprising announcement - “As of July 1, 2022, no new sign-ups to QuickBooks products in India will be accepted. Prior to July 31, all existing customers will be switched to a free subscription that will enable them to continue using QuickBooks until January 31, 2023, with no charges applied. Customers who paid an annual subscription will receive a pro-rata refund for the unused part of their subscription.”
It also announced - “The decision to retire QuickBooks products in India does not impact Intuit’s ongoing presence and commitment to investing in top tech talent in the country. The 1,300+ strong team in India continues to deliver bold innovation that impacts more than 100 million Intuit customers around the world,”
What comes as a surprise is that Intuit announced an exit at a time when Indian SMEs are increasingly digitizing their processes including bookkeeping, inventory and even delivery. This has gained speed since the pandemic. Many SMEs are, also, collaborating with SaaS startups to increase efficiency.
This move by Intuit will help its Indian competitors like Zoho and Tally to increase their market share. In fact, Zoho has already stepped in to fill the gap caused by Intuit’s exit.
“At Zoho, we understand how challenging it can be for businesses to find a replacement for their existing financial system. Zoho Books will be glad to serve the needs of those businesses looking for an alternative solution, and help them transition smoothly,” said Prashant Ganti, head of products tax, accounting and payroll, Zoho.
So, the question is – Why has Intuit QuickBooks decided to exit the Indian Market? To understand this, here’s a quick look at what is Quickbooks and what are the services it offers.
Quickbooks – When, Where and How Was It Developed?
In 1983, Scott Cook and Tom Proulx co-founded Intuit Inc, in California, USA. The company first developed ‘Quicken’, a product for individual financial management that will be immensely successful. Following this, it developed similar services for small business owners.
The first Release
Quickbooks was initially released as a DOS version based on the Quicken code base. The software gained success among small business owners with no training in accounting. Quickbooks continued to grow and soon claimed 83% of the local market in the USA by 2013.
Professional Accountants, however, were quick to point out the weak links in the software – poor security control, absence of audit trail and non-conformity with traditional accounting standards.
The criticism from Professional Accounts did not go unheeded. Intuit is set to work improving upon their software constantly.
Year 2000 – Intuit developed Basic and Pro Versions and included full audit trail capabilities, double-entry accounting function and increased functions.
Year 2002 – Intuit launched Quickbooks Enterprise Solutions for medium-sized businesses.
Year 2003 – Started offering industry-specific versions with workflow processes and reports including terminology specific to the trade.
Year 2005 – Cornered 74% of the US market
Year 2008 – More than 50,000 accountants, CPAs and independent consultants were a part of the Quickbooks ProAdvisor Program.
Year 2014 – Quickbooks released the Quickbooks 2015 versions including features being requested by users in the past. It included improved version of the income tracker, pinned notes, an improved registration process and insights on the homepage.
Year 2015 – Release of Quickbooks 2016 with improvement to existing features and new features like batch transaction, bill tracking, continuous feed label printer support, batch delete/void transactions etc.
Year 2016 – Release of Quickbooks 2017 with improvements like automated reports, smart search and improved viewing of report filters.
Year 2017 – Release of Quickbooks 2018 with added features like mobile inventory barcode scanning, multi-monitor support, search in the chart of accounts and mobile inventory scanning.
Year 2018 – release of Quickbooks 2019 with added unique features like a history tracker for customer invoices, the ability to transfer credits between other jobs for the same customer and a payroll adjustment feature.
Year 2019 – release of Quickbooks 2020 aiming at improving experience quality and reliability. All desktop versions were packed with new features like the ability to add customer PO numbers in email subject lines, send batch invoices to customers, automated payment reminders, collapse and expand columns and easy updates.
Year 2020 – release of Quickbooks 2021 with improved payment processes and automated features. Desktop editions of this version have streamlined bank feeds, automated receipt management, rule-based customer groups, payment reminders, customized payment receipts, data level permissions and batch delete sales orders.
Intuit’s Quickbooks versions are available in many different international markets. The Canadian, British and Australian divisions of the company offer Quickbooks that support the unique tax calculation needs of each of these regions.
QuickBooks India Journey
Quickbooks entered India in 2012 providing its products and services for accountancy and small businesses. Its product portfolio included cloud accounting, inventory management, cash flow management and invoicing.
With its entry, Quickbooks positioned itself to target 2 million broadband-connected small businesses. With its friendly features like affordability, accessibility, ease of use and ease of installation and maintenance, it quickly gained popularity.
In 2017, Quickbooks covered a major milestone by making the software GST compliant. It also announced an agreement with Visa to strengthen business propositions for SME customers.
The Indian Disconnection
After a decade of operations in the country, it has announced its exit. It has also requested all its clients to download their data and transition out of Quickbooks. With a customer base of four million globally, Intuit’s Indian customers barely constitute 1-2%.
Its official statement for exit declared - “This difficult decision to discontinue QuickBooks has been made as the company can no longer deliver and support a product that meets the needs of customers in India,”
There are compelling reasons for the discontinuation of Quickbooks.
- Indian SMEs constitute anything from a local grocery store to manufacturers or suppliers to big brands. This poses a unique challenge to the design of the accounting software.
- It is mandatory to have a precise understanding of the challenges and requirements of the SME industry
- The short time frame, especially for an international player, is a huge roadblock to developing an understanding of an SME market like India which is not straightforward.
- Standardising a product or a service for this segment is not easy
- Indian Government’s initiative of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ has also played a key role in promoting homegrown businesses like Zoho and Tally which offer similar services and are also cost-competitive
With this exit announcement, an era is coming to an end. It’s a story that, on one side reflects the inability of a company to keep abreast of the SME requirements in the country, and, on the other spells triumph for homegrown SaaS companies offering similar services with a deeper understanding.
Why did QuickBooks exit India?
One reason QuickBooks is planning to leave India is the Indian market is really competitive.
Can I still use QuickBooks after the subscription expires?
Yes, you can use QuickBooks after your subscription ends but you will not receive any security updates.