Plaid, a 10 + billion fintech company you might not have heard of
Plaid is a company that you might not have heard of before today. This is an enabling platform that connects people’s bank accounts and finance apps. While interoperability doesn’t look like the most innovative business model, Plaid just raised $425 million in a Series D round in April at a valuation of $13.4 billion.
With investment in Fintech growing at 64% YoY between 2016and 2021, the number of global Fintech companies has tripled in the last 5years. The number of point-to-point connections between these companies and banks has thus grown exponentially (i.e. geometric progression). Managing these interfaces to other Fintech companies becomes an ever increasing burden and cost. This is where Plaid is coming in. It is making life easier for all players in the financial sector by providing a standard interface (API)providing access to all connected players.
VISA, the largest credit card network globally understood this early on and tried to acquire Plaid in 2020, only to be rebuked by the antitrust authority in early 2021.
With so much “verified” data going through its platform, Plaid can now move away from being an intermediary to developing services based on this data. It has recently introduced a B2C product. Coined “Income”, it is making it easy for consumers to verify their income to get a loan, rent a home, or lease a vehicle, etc.
While Plaid is clearly filling a gap for the current financial sector, it is still very much linked to the traditional “fiat currency”-based system. With crypto and digital currencies (e.g. digital renminbi)enabling peer 2 peer transactions without the necessity of building specific interfaces, what will happen to this intermediation business?