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October 13, 2021

Highlights from Day 1 at Plaid Forum

Jean-Denis Greze

We wrapped up Day 1 of Plaid Forum, our virtual conference, and it was exciting to see hundreds of people come together to discuss how we’re building the future of fintech together. Plaid’s mission is to unlock financial freedom for everyone, and we can’t do it alone. With new and enhanced products we’ve announced today, our goal is to give you the building blocks to create a world of possibilities for consumers everywhere. 

Today, we discussed a number of new products including a new ACH risk tool, enhancements to Plaid Link, updates to the Transactions endpoint, new and expanded features to Plaid Income and products to help you grow your global footprint. We also hosted a number of hands-on workshops and a lively Q&A session with Zach and I today. 

Our day 1 keynote is now available on demand here. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap of what we discussed today:

New features in Plaid Link to build even more trust with users

We’ve always focused on building an onboarding experience that is even more intuitive, transparent, and easy with Plaid Link. Today’s users want more visibility and control over what data they’re sharing and with whom. That’s why it’s important that our products regularly evolve to meet your customer’s needs without sacrificing conversion.

One enhancement we’ve introduced is the co-branded Consent pane, which enables users to have an even more seamless and transparent transition between your app and Plaid.

  • Smoother animation: clearly and seamlessly transition users to Plaid Link during the connection process

  • Co-branding: feature your logo alongside ours

  • Refreshed copy: reinforce the user benefit of using Plaid to link their financial accounts

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Since our initial roll out in May, hundreds of customers are already using the improved Consent pane. All Plaid customers have access to this feature and you can enable this in your developer Dashboard.

A new privacy center for fintech 

We want Plaid to be the safer way for people to share their data with financial apps, and while the first touchpoint starts with Plaid Link, it doesn’t end there. We launched Plaid Portal in beta last year, so people can view and manage the connections they’ve made through Plaid and the types of data they are sharing with their connected applications.

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Better transactions data quality and insights to power better product experiences

A key reason many of you choose Plaid is because of the data quality enabled by our network. You look to us to deliver consumer-permissioned data that is timely, insightful, and actionable. 

We listened to your feedback and doubled down on our efforts to address your top requests. Today, we announced some of our biggest updates to our Transactions product to-date. 

Improved categorization accuracy

This year, we’ve made big strides in improving categorization across the board and particularly for regional utilities providers and gig-economy payroll, as well as credit card payments and rent payments. We introduced a new platform, which enables Plaid to use context from an item’s entire history to better provide transaction categories, rather than looking at a single transaction in isolation. Since implementing this new platform, we've been able to improve our coverage for payroll transactions by 92%.

A simpler and streamlined categorization taxonomy

For some PFM use cases, we learned that working with our existing category list can sometimes be exhaustive and time-consuming. With this in mind, we developed a new taxonomy that includes fewer, better-defined categories that provide more concise and clear insights, and higher quality category predictions. 

“The more we investigated consumer spending categories for our use cases at LendingTree, the more we realized how incredibly complex they were. The breadth of spending, institutions, and merchants makes it a real challenge. After reviewing Plaid's new proposed taxonomy, it’s so much easier to understand. We’ll really be able to simplify some of the logic we have in creating insights for our users.”

-- Bryce McAvoy, Senior Product Manager, LendingTree

More insights such as recurring transactions

Many of you have asked for a way to better understand spending habits and provide more actionable insights, like personalized financial advice, and timely reminders about an upcoming bill. Our new recurring transactions endpoint will help you identify streams of transactions that occur on a regular basis.

Lastly, keeping track and accessing up-to-date transactions data can be challenging and complex, so we simplified it for you. We’re introducing a new API that will pull incremental updates to transactions data, directly showcasing real-time changes (adds/removes/modifies) so that you can access fresh and consistent consumer-permissioned transaction data at all times. With this new API, you won’t have to stitch together snapshots triggered using our webhooks.

These new products and features are now available to an early group of Plaid customers as part of our beta program. Stay tuned as we work towards making all these products and features generally available to all Transactions customers in the future.

Faster ACH transaction experience 

Another area of focus is improving the product experience of ACH transactions. Many of you are using ACH as part of your account funding and disbursements process. ACH can be a very cost effective way to move money, and we are working on several ways to make ACH transactions faster and more predictable. To streamline the ACH process, we built Signal which provides real-time transaction analysis of ACH returns through data insights powered by the Plaid Network. Signal returns three API responses:

  • Two risk signals: indicate the likelihood of a bank-initiated or customer-initiated return 

  • Risk tiers: to indicate whether this transaction is high, medium or low risk 

  • Risk insights: nearly 40 different data points that provide greater visibility into the factors contributing to the assigned tier 

With these insights, our goal is to help make the ACH transaction experience easier and more beneficial for both you and your customers. You can now make funds available to your end-users more quickly and reduce operational costs by minimizing the risk of ACH returns. 

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Plaid Signal provides unique data for risk assessment so we can make smarter, faster decisions. Now, more Uphold users can trade instantly without having to wait the normal four-day settlement period for ACH deposits — a game changer.”

-- Christopher Adjei-Ampofo Chief Information Officer, Uphold

Signal is available for mature, ACH originators, expanding to more customers in the future.  

Unlock more use cases with new data sets 

Earlier this year, we announced the launch of Plaid Income, our digital income verification product and since then we’ve seen a number of beta customers use it to power all sorts of use cases from auto loans, mortgages to medical payments. 

Today, we’ll be offering this product to a greater number of customers in our early access program. Since launching earlier this year, we’ve received a lot of feedback from our beta customers and are eager to share some of the new features we’ve been working on for Plaid Income. This includes:

  • Expanded coverage: We now cover 40+ payroll and gig platforms and provide coverage for 70% of eligible US workers.

  • More data and more insights: Users can now share more data about their employer including employment history and current employment status.

  • Updated verification: We are working on a feature for users to provide updated income  information to a trusted service provider without having to re-authenticate on a regular basis.

  • Smart search: Users can search by employer and developers can share additional contextual information about a user so that Plaid can better route the user to the payroll provider during the verification process.

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"Using Plaid Income, Cherry's income verification process has gone from a manual process to an automated flow that takes less than 15 seconds. This allows Cherry to streamline their application process and make near-instant decisions for many applicants."

-- Charles Mourani, Chief Technology Officer, Cherry

We’re just getting started to reimagine what credit should look like. This is the first of many products we’ll be focused on to provide an even better credit experience for everyone. Stay tuned. 

We have a number of beta customers using Plaid Income now and we’re excited to make the product more broadly available to lenders in our early access program starting today. 

Expanding Payment Initiation to more markets

Last but not least, our goal is to help you capture more opportunities and that includes expanding into new geographical areas. We want to be your single integration point that helps you expand internationally so you can grow your business with just a few lines of code. 

We first launched Plaid in the UK in 2019, and since then, the opportunity and growth of fintech has only expanded. Last year, we launched Payment Initiation (PIS) to help your users make instant bank payments online. We heard from many of you that you’re looking for a unified way to make account-to-account payments possible across even more markets.

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"When Plaid goes live in a new country, they enable us to execute a more sophisticated workflow to deliver faster approvals. When Plaid launched [AIS] in the Netherlands, for example, they helped us speed up our underwriting decisions and improve pricing to customers there”

-- Mark Ufland, CTO, YouLend 

We’re excited to announce that we have expanded PIS coverage to include Germany and France. Over the coming months, we’ll be expanding PIS in Spain, Ireland, and the Netherlands as well. 

Looking ahead, we’re eager to work more closely with all of you and will be building out more payment features, including payment confirmation, refunds, and payouts. We want to be your full-stack payments provider with Open Banking.

Payment Initiation in Germany and France will initially be available to a select group of Plaid customers as part of our beta program, with a goal to make this more widely available soon.

Thank you for your continued feedback and support. Your input drives our roadmap and helps us build better products to accelerate your business, so please keep it coming. 

In the meantime, check out our videos from today or contact our team if you have any additional questions. Stay tuned for more content tomorrow on some of our new tools to help new and existing developers on our platform launch, grow and scale.