My explanation of the different term/services that Quicken has provides and provided in the past.
Methods for retrieving transactions:
Quicken talks to financial institution using the OFX protocol. Requires the financial institution to have an OFX server that ties into the rest of their system. There is a “send” and a “receive” conversation. Quicken sends a request for the transactions, and the financial institution’s OFX sends back the transactions in the OFX format.
Web Connect/QFX file:
The financial institution generates a file that has as the
same format as the “receive” part of the Direct Connect conversation, and the
user imports that QFX file into Quicken to get the transactions into their
Express Web Connect (This is known as Quicken Connect on Quicken Mac, and works similarly):
Quicken syncs data with the Quicken Cloud dataset/server, which in turn talks to Intuit’s servers, which in turn talks to the financial institution’s website. Intuit logs in as the user and transfers the data in an “agreed upon method” (which isn’t standardize over all the financial institutions, and as such there isn’t any telling how reliable this will be over all the different financial institutions).
Express Web Connect +:
It exactly the same as Express Web Connect is the exception of the connection between Intuit and the financial institution. It is a standardized protocol.
will notice I have not mention bill presentment or bill pay yet. With the exception of Direct Connect none or
the above has anything to do with bill presentment/paying bills.
Here is a rundown of how each of these bills pay
"Bill Pay" (through Direct Connect): Using the OFX protocol basically Quicken works almost like a GUI for the financial institution's bill payment system. As in it can request the list of billers, add new ones, send payments, schedule payments, ... All through the OFX protocol. Only Quicken (the program) and the financial institution are involved. Note this is a "push" system where the payments are sent from your checking account. And of course, if a transfer wasn’t possible a check was sent instead.
"Quicken Bill Pay" (provided by Metavante Payment Services). For the people that didn't have "Bill Pay" (or didn't want to pay if their financial institution charged for it) they could use this service. For the most part other than setting it up, to the Quicken user it looked the same, but underneath it was talking to a third-party service. This service worked by you authorizing it to do ACH transfers from your checking account. So, if you requested it to pay Xfinity it would put in an ACH transfer from your checking account to Xfinity. It was a "push" system too. Note that if you were paying someone that couldn’t accept an ACH transfer, a check was sent instead. But Metavante got out of this business a few years ago, which pushed Quicken Inc to go to “Quicken Bill Manager”.
Since about Quicken 2012 Quicken has had “Online Bills” (bill
presentment) from a third-party service and SuperUser @Sherlock thinks it is BillGO. It works by logging into the biller’s website
as you and tries to get the bill. In
practice over the years, it works well with some billers, flaky with others,
and doesn’t work at all for others in that either the biller isn’t supported,
or it will never complete the setup, or it never gets the bill.
Quicken Bill Manager/Quicken Quick Pay is from this same third-party and works the same way except now you extend the functionality to try to schedule payments. This is a "pull" system where it is the biller that is transferring the money from your credit card or checking account to pay the bill.
And then there is the “fallback”. For billers that can’t be scheduled like this and such you have Quicken Bill Manager/Check Pay. As in you are directing the third party-service to write a check for you.
As far as how all of this shows up in Quicken, for the most part they integrated the so that you get the kinds of things you might expect where the payment transactions appear in the register with “status information” and such, and there is more information on them on the Bills & Income tab. I don’t know all the nitty gritty details because I avoid the system
I will point out that when you link a reminder to an online bill, it takes over the date and amount of that reminder. This is a good thing when it is right, very bad when it isn’t, and it also removes your ability to use the estimate functions in the reminders.
Personally, I spent many years trying to make the online bill presentment system to work but it was never reliable. I wouldn’t even consider paying my bills knowing that the bill system is based on this same unreliable system. It has been several years since I have dropped using it.
I have almost all of my bills paid automatically from my credit card, so I don't have to care about being able to see every bill (they appear on my credit card, and I have plenty of time to contest them if need be. In truth I have never had to contest a bill). This is also a “pull system” where the biller’s are pulling the payments from credit card/checking account, but it is different in two very important ways. The first is I’m setting it up, not some “script”. Second, I set it up to pay the bill off in full and then I don’t have to touch it again. Whereas with Quicken Bill Manager people want to schedule/change thing frequently increasing the chances of things going wrong.
Another approach is to use your financial institution's website/bill pay system and then setup manual reminders in Quicken and match those to the downloaded transactions as the bills get paid. Yes, you have to double entry, but in truth once you get most of the bills setup the most you have to do is tweak the amounts and maybe the dates a bit.
Of course, if your system is "I pay bills when I get around to them" and the same bill might be paid at completely different times, they the workload goes up.
Sync to Mobile/Web:
There is definitely some confusion on this one. The sync is between the Quicken Desktop data file and the Quicken Cloud dataset. The Quicken Cloud dataset is used by the Quicken Mobile App and Quicken Web site (sometimes called App). They are the "GUIs" for the Quicken Cloud dataset.
The idea with the "sync" is that even though the Quicken Desktop data file is the "master", either side can update the data and it has to be kept in sync. It is important to note that there is an unique Id in every data file that is used to connect the Quicken Desktop data file to the Quicken Cloud dataset. And if one just takes copy of a data file say with Windows Explorer and start using it as if it was a different data file this sync can get messed up and corrupt the data. One should always use the copy/template feature in Quicken if they want a copy of their data file to be used as a start for another data file or create new Quicken Desktop data file.
Sync to Mobile/Web has been implicated in many strange "data corruptions" like changing of transactions and budgets.
And note that Express Web Connect uses this same sync to get the transactions. Its flow is:
Quicken Desktop data file -> Sync <- Quicken Connection Services/Quicken Cloud dataset -> Intuit servers -> Financial institution's websites
So, it is "syncing" too. It seems to be more stable than "Sync to Mobile/Web", but there are strange bugs like changing the opening balances.
More details here:
This is my website: http://www.quicknperlwiz.com/