Plaid, developers of financial services APIs, has been helping developers connect an app to a major U.S. bank account for several years, but today they expanded that API to include all U.S. banks, including smaller banks that might not have as advanced technology.
The product in question is called Auth. Prior to today’s announcement, this ability to easily connect to a bank account quickly was only available to roughly 3,800 banks. The others required a more manual process or couldn’t participate. With this expansion, 11,500 U.S. banks and credit unions can now connect using the Auth tool, meaning just about every bank or credit union, regardless of the backend technology.
The problem says, William Hockey, CTO and co-founder at Plaid, is that there are a variety of authentication options, depending on how sophisticated the bank’s technology might be. That meant leaving out banks or meticulously trying to code for every possibility. Plaid wanted to automate that for developers.
“Everybody in the U.S. can actually use this product now. And some of those [connections] are super quick and instant, and some of those maybe take a day to verify, but what we’re doing is we’re wrapping all of that in the product. And so you as a developer, you don’t have to worry about all of the different authentication methods at some of these banks,” Hockey explained.
This is of course the major value proposition of any tool of this ilk, whether Stripe or Twilio or any similar product. It strips the complexity for developers, and allows them to add sophisticated functionality to an application with a couple of lines of code.
From a consumer perspective, you would select your bank from the list and the Plaid Auth tool would find the fastest connection method automatically, based on the bank’s technology.
Plaid was founded in 2013 and has raised more than $300 million. The most recent round was $250 million on a $2.65 billion valuation.