June 20, 2023

An easier way to manage ACH return risk with Signal Dashboard

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John Anderson
Head of Payments, Plaid

John leads Plaid’s product teams and our efforts to make bank payments smarter, faster, and safer across the digital finance ecosystem.

Today, we're excited to announce Signal Dashboard, which makes Signal’s ACH risk assessments accessible to any company, even those with limited data science resources.

Now businesses can use Signal Dashboard to easily analyze ACH return risk in real time, make smarter risk decisions, and move money faster and safer for their customers. That means, businesses can potentially accelerate fund transfer and move new users from sign-up to their first trade in less than 90 seconds, helping activate users now, not in several days or weeks. 

Signal brings advanced, network intelligence to payment risk assessment

To help you deliver faster, near instant ACH experiences, we launched Signal in November, a machine learning risk engine that uses the power of the Plaid network to predict ACH return risk in real time. Since then, we’ve tripled our monthly processing volume and currently protect over $2B in transactions per month across banks, crypto exchanges, and wealth platforms. 

When we first launched Signal, it was best suited for companies with large data science teams who use Signal to refine their risk models to improve transaction success and reduce return risk. For example, a leading prepaid debit card provider decreased their return rates by more than 75%. And, Uphold used Signal to offer instant trading to over 90% of new users without significantly increasing return rates.   

But not all businesses have the same robust risk expertise and technological know-how to manage ACH risk adequately. They also shouldn’t have to choose between risk management and a great user experience. Now, with Signal Dashboard, companies of all sizes can access network-based risk assessment so that they too can deliver a great first moment at sign-up for their users —like funding their account, buying a trending stock, or even betting on their favorite team before game time.

Analyze risk like a data scientist, without needing one

Signal analyzes over 1,000 unique risk factors and returns risk scores, tiers, and more than 60 attributes. The Dashboard makes it easier to understand these insights so you can set the right risk thresholds for your business. For transactions that fall in the low-risk tiers, your business can confidently give users immediate access to their funds so they can start making the most of your app as soon as they sign up. And for higher-risk tiers, you can put additional checks in place. 

Signal Dashboard helps you: 

  • Stay up to date with ACH operations: The Overview page summarizes your ACH operations including your overall return rate so you can track against industry benchmarks, and remain Nacha compliant. You’ll also see your top return codes and other trends.

  • Make smarter risk decisions: The Performance View shows the bank-initiated return score for all transactions and visualizes the impact of different risk score thresholds on your business. This helps you set the risk threshold that best fits your goals and create corresponding dynamic payment flows. 

  • Understand the “why” behind the score: The Transactions View breaks down the attributes that contributed to each return risk score. These attributes are powerful insights about the bank account connected to the transaction, drawing from Plaid’s network across 12,000+ financial institutions and 8,000+ applications. For example, “days since the first Plaid connection” can help you understand account age while a spike in account connections might correlate with high return risk. At the same time, account balance trends could show a risk for insufficient funds.

  • Increase precision of your insights: As with all machine learning models, feedback loops make Signal more precise and work better for you. And that’s why we’re adding an ACH processing decision and return data importer within the Dashboard to make it easy for you to label and submit feedback.

Faster payment rails provide a great deal of utility to consumers and businesses alike, but also appeal to fraudsters. Our recent research (Faster Payments, Faster Fraud: Solutions to Stop the Madness) learned that the majority of FIs surveyed saw a spike in fraud attacks in 2022. Therefore investment in real-time payment controls is a key priority. Network-based approaches like Plaid Signal can help enhance risk programs through unique insights and attributes.

- Ron van Wezel, Strategic Advisor, Retail Banking & Payments with Aite-Novarica

Making Signal work better for you 

We’re constantly improving the performance of our products. Over the last few months, we’ve improved Signal’s ability to use data from our network about connected bank accounts, making the customer-initiated return risk score more accurate. We’ve already seen 2-5X performance improvements because of this. And now with Signal Dashboard, Signal will have an expanded and more diverse customer base with a wider range of ACH use cases to learn from and continuously improve its performance. 

Mitigate risk across the user journey 

Fraud doesn’t start and stop during money movement – it starts from the moment a user signs up for your app, verifies their identity, and connects their accounts. That’s why Plaid offers network-powered solutions at every step of the way to tackle identity, account, transaction, and network risk altogether.

Ready to get started? 

With Signal, you can unlock instant ACH for your customers, lower ACH returns, and boost conversion rates. And now with Signal Dashboard, you can access best-in-class risk assessment no matter the size of your data science team. 

If you’re interested in Signal, reach out to your Plaid Account Manager. If you are an existing Signal customer, you can access Signal Dashboard by logging into your Plaid account