Reconcile's November Update

Happy Thanksgiving in advance to you all! =)

Hey all, happy Wednesday before Thanksgiving! In previous years, I would pack up my laptop by 12 pm and begin my Thanksgiving prep. Yet with nowhere to go now, I’m stuck wondering if I should keep up with my yearly ritual 🤷🏽‍♂️

Instead, I think I’ll take the afternoon to reflect on a great year and remember what I’m thankful for. I’ll share these thoughts in next month’s newsletter. By the way, I’ll be turning these newsletters into monthly updates and blog posts for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve decided to go more heads-down in building our voice assistant. Secondly, I want to provide more detailed takes on Reconcile (and our progress), fintech, and voice tech.

I realized to provide more value back to you all, I need to educate and inspire creative thought. In turn, the community can exponentially add to each other’s insightful ideas


🚀 Reconcile Updates & Asks 🚀

  • We were downselected into the final round of a notable tech accelerator based in NYC! Fingers crossed 🤞🏽

  • We onboarded a rockstar iOS engineer onto the team to lead our front-end development. So if you have any issues with the look and feel of the app, I’ll know who to blame (just kidding) 😆

  • We finalized our v1.1 design! Here’s a link to check it out! I recommend opening it up on a web browser or on your phone (if you have an iPhone X).

  • Also, one of our co-founders celebrated his first wedding anniversary 🥳

🤑 Fintech Finds 🤑

For this newsletter, I chose to highlight Google’s continued push into banking and fintech. I wrote about this topic earlier this year (see here). At the time, I noted how Google benefits by delivering more personalized ads (revenue boost), increasing Google Pay use (revenue boost), and deepening user relationships (brand loyalty boost). I wondered how this ambitious effort would take shape. Now we know! Google recently announced a robust relaunch that takes aim at A LOT of incumbent fintech.

Here’s a breakdown of the features:

  • Pay with Google: this includes both tap-to-pay and peer-to-peer payments. Here, Google clearly wants to be the preferred payment channel as most transactions for consumers happen either via point of sale or P2P. The question I have is how likely are current consumers willing to break their current habit of paying with their plastic cards or P2P apps like Venmo or Cash. However, a cool and very valuable feature, especially for consultants and business professionals, is the ability for Google pay to scan for receipts on your Gmail and Google Photos account. These receipts will then be auto-appended to transactions!

  • Explore with Google: this aggregates all personalized shopping deals for you based on your transaction history. This isn’t a new feature, although, of all fintech, I think Google is best positioned to deliver relevant deals. I’m sick of seeing ads for Red Lobster on my mobile banking apps because I have not and will never go there, as I don’t eat lobster. An added benefit of the deals is that it’s credit card agnostic - meaning I can apply it to my Chase Sapphire or to my Chase United card. This is quite helpful for point chasers as you can continue using your preferred card without sacrificing on a potential deal. The last big feature is being able to scan a QR or barcode while you’re in a store so that you can compare prices in real-time. This is kind of similar to Amazon’s scan feature that pulls up the same product except Google allows you to compare prices across the web.

  • Insights with Google: this is the least differentiated feature. It feels similar to all of the other PFM apps like Mint or Truebill. It aggregates all of your transactional information, reminds you of upcoming bills, and provides you reports of your spending (like the annoying “you spent 40% more on restaurants this week” notification).

  • Plex with Google: this is the real show-stopper! It’s essentially a banking app replacement for banks and credit unions. So if you’re a financial institution with a lame app, you can rely on Google to provide a better user experience and interface for your customers. It will allow users to perform just about the same actions you could inside your traditional mobile banking app plus create savings goals, which is a neat feature that fintech apps like Digit and Qapital popularized.

  • Bottom line: If Google can execute on this broad product roadmap, I think it can immediately become a force within the fintech landscape. Data privacy concerns aside, it immediately offers a better product than Mint, Truebill, or my Chase mobile banking app as it aggregates the best parts of each into one single app. To read more on this, here are two other articles I recommend: article one, article two


🤖 Voice Tech Finds 🤖

  • Here’s a dated report from Bank of America, but I wanted to highlight the significance of its findings. Notably, BoA reported that Erica, its in-app virtual assistant, had 13 million active users as of March 2020. It also handled 15 million requests in April alone! David Tyrie, head of digital banking, mentioned that initial queries were simple tasks like transaction searches; however, users continued to push for more complex tasks as they became more familiar with Erica.

    I’m not surprised by these findings and actually think we’ll start hearing more stories like this from banks that migrate to a virtual assistant-based app. It’s clear that consumers don’t want to think about or manage their finances. They would rather let someone or a smart AI tackle these problems for them. If I were leading the Erica team, I would have them make the assistant a much more prominent part of the app - even turning it into the first interface a user sees upon opening the app. As of now, the interface looks quite ugly and alarming - like it’s not going to help me beyond simple tasks. Also, it needs to be more voice-enabled to simplify the experience even more.

    For more information, here’s the article.


Thanks for reading!

Jaimin Desai - CEO & Co-Founder of Reconcile

www.getreconcile.com

P.S. If you appreciate these newsletters and want to help us develop more content, we’re looking to bring a marketing lead onto the team. Reach out if you’re interested! Otherwise, would love it if you could help spread the word and share your favorite newsletter!!!

Back to normalcy and it feels so good 😎

Another Reconcile feel-good newsletter with interesting fintech and voice reads

Hey everyone, happy Tuesday! We’re back this week after taking a mini-break as we knew everyone was quite busy and distracted with the election last Tuesday.

To sum up the rollercoaster ride that’s been 2020 and last week’s election drama, here’s a quote from Nelson Mandela in his autobiography that I love coming back to:

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death.”

All of us, whether we’re founders, small business owners, or entry-level workers, should continue walking towards our north star in good times and in bad. We were explicitly reminded this year that bad times do exist, and they will totally disrupt our lifestyles if we let them. Even Reconcile was forced to go through some dark moments when our faith was deeply tested. Yet, I’m thankful to the team and all of us pushed past the troughs and are now ascending to an even higher peak!

Personally, I am extremely bullish on the future. There is so much more to learn, build, and distribute throughout society so that we can all elevate the lowest members of society up a level. I hope today’s newsletter reminds you of the power of optimism and inspires you to reach new heights today!


🚀 Reconcile Updates & Asks 🚀

  • We pitched to two notable fintech accelerator and sandbox programs last week and made it to the final round of interviews! If all goes well, we’ll share good news later this month 😎

  • We’re in the process of designing our v1.2 around two main value propositions: double-checking that our refunds post as expected and on-time (because sometimes they never come in!) and custom-tagging our charges for better organization (especially important for those of us that mix business charges on personal cards).

  • If you want to offer feedback on our new designs, ping me directly! We’ve already tested with our first wave of early adopters but happy to get some more eyeballs to help out.

  • It’s been about two weeks since we released v1.1, here are some voice of the user quotes:

    "Reconcile turns my accounting work easy. I hate my current software but I like that I can say something and then move on with my day."

    "I see the power of being able to quickly tag in less than five seconds on the go."

    "I rarely track my statements so I love being able to tell someone else to track it for me. Especially my refunds."

🤑 Fintech Finds 🤑

  • To limit the growth of carbon emissions, Stripe launched a new tool enabling clients to automatically contribute a percentage of each transaction to carbon removal purchases. Personally, I appreciate the initiative and would like to see more of this tech embedded into payments - perhaps even as a carbon tax. While tech advancements in the last twenty years opened up easier, faster, and more convenient access to products and services, they’ve also destroyed much of our climate. The United States government subsidizes carbon pollution with tax-breaks to oil and gas production yet still lacks a formal carbon offset program. Stripe, as one of the biggest payment gateways in the world, can effectively push its biggest clients towards a carbon-neutral operating model via this new carbon offset initiative. It’s clear that the federal government won’t take the lead on restoring balance in our environment so private companies like Stripe will have to lead the way. Read more about the initiative here.

  • Another day, another embedded payments partnership. This time, Shopify partnered with TikTok to enable shoppable ads within the social media app. If you’re unclear on what this means, think of the Instagram ads that allow you to buy products within the app. Read more about the partnership here.

  • Ant Financial, an affiliate of the Chinese behemoth Alibaba, recently filed to go public in the biggest tech IPO in history. It’s considered to be the most valuable fintech company in the world as its Alipay product serves over one billion users and processes CN¥118 trillion as of June 2020. I’ll leave more detail on the company at the bottom but in short, it’s a super-powered financial platform that enables frictionless payments, lending, investing, and more. Ant Financial was all set to go public until Chinese regulators stepped in at the last minute. The latter demanded that Ant Financial own more debt-risk on its balance sheet instead of passing it off to Chinese state banks. It’s a valid concern to avoid the former from dumping low-performing loans onto the state. However, it’s ridiculous for a government body to nix the WORLD’S BIGGEST IPO two days before it was set to start trading. This screams of massive bureaucratic overreach that only China can get away with. It’s a horrible look to castigate your best entrepreneur, Jack Ma, and your most valuable public company, Alibaba, in front of the world to satisfy an ego-trip. To read more about Ant Financial, check out this post by Mario Gabriele, and to learn more about the botched IPO, check out this read.


🤖 Voice Tech Finds 🤖


Thanks for reading!

Jaimin Desai - CEO & Co-Founder of Reconcile

www.getreconcile.com

P.S. please share the newsletter with other friends that would enjoy hearing about our journey! 

New additions to Reconcile's roadmap

and intriguing fintech and voice finds of the week!

Hey friends, happy hump day! Hope the last week in October is going well for you (never thought we would be so close to the end of 2020).

As we continue chatting with investors and engineers to woo them onto our rocketship, I came across a quote from Buckminster Fuller, a 20th-century inventor.

“You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”

When I think of our mission, I immediately harken to the frustrations most of us feel with the existing financial world - complex interfaces, confusing financial terms and documents, and unhelpful customer support. Every time I write this newsletter, I’m thankful to have a community behind us willing to build a new model of accessible, fast, and enjoyable financial experiences. A world in which all of us can thrive together!


🚀 Reconcile Updates & Asks 🚀

  • We had a great demo day to wrap up our Zero to One Bootcamp with Afore Capital! We’ve scheduled chats with notable NY-based VC firms later this week.

  • We also are pitching to the Entre startup community tomorrow evening. Here’s a link to free tickets if you want to view us win 😉

  • After releasing our v1.1 to more waitlisters last week, we’ve received valuable feedback from many of you. We’ll incorporate these changes into our next version release, which should come in mid-November.

    Here are some additional user requests that we’re adding to our voice roadmap

    Search previous transactions (e.g. “Did I pay my Verizon bill this month? How much did I pay last month?”)

    Tag multiple charges at a time (e.g. “Tag all of my AMEX credits as client invoices”)

    Inform what card should be used during payment to optimize rewards and credit limits (e.g. “Which of my credit cards should I use at Costco?”)

    Confirm when a P2P payment comes in (e.g. “Alert me when a $200 Zelle credit hits my account”)

  • If you have any other voice commands that you would like to use, ping me and we’ll add it to the roadmap!

🤑 Fintech Finds 🤑

  • It’s no secret that the pandemic fueled a huge shift to digital tech, especially for banks. Citi bank’s Chief Digital Officer recently unveiled his ambitious 5-year plan to revamp his firm’s strategy. The plan reads similar to what most banks and consulting firms push out every few years as part of a PR blitz to establish themselves as thought-leaders.

    “We need to be a bank with a soul.”

    Good luck convincing consumers of this …

    The problem is, banks don’t have the technical competencies to push the innovation envelope. The best technical talent work at competing challenger banks and fintech firms like Revolut and Stripe. Banks are left to build with fintech aqui-hire talent, that only stick around to cash-in their stock grants and corporate lifers that have stuck around with the firm for years. For banks to truly evolve into the digital world gracefully, it’ll need to change their culture to being tech-first. This is quite tough when the status quo and government regulations require traditional banking purists to remain in executive positions. But, Citi and the other Goliaths need to think tech-first, at least within its consumer-centric products, to win and build lasting products. Without a cultural shift, why would top engineering talent from Stanford or Lambda School choose to work at a bank instead of promising fintech startups that offer more growth opportunities, higher future returns, and typically, friendlier working environments? The big difference in startup versus corporate bank culture is that the former makes user-centric decisions whereas the latter relies on IRR and ROI as guiding pillars.

    For an example of a non-tech company that’s truly mastered this transition, look at Dominos. Its CEO consistently mentions that he runs a tech company that sells pizzas. Because of this shift, Dominos stock has appreciated almost four-fold in the last five years. When will banks start realizing that the key to winning the next decade is to modernize the culture and workforce instead of updating PR memos with catchy buzzwords and obvious strategic roadmaps?


🤖 Voice Tech Finds 🤖

The best part of the experience is most certainly the onboarding. Instead of being forced to read a bunch of text, Dennis actually narrates what’s going on and what to expect from the app as I move along the flow.

By the way, I’m definitely going to incorporate this into Reconcile. It’s so much easier understanding an app with a simple audio pitch rather than relying on words on a screen. We could theoretically deliver a similar experience that personal bankers and accountants offer by using voice and audio as our primary interface mechanisms.

SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY IN THIS SPACE!! Now I’m sure all of you can see why we’re so excited about the future of voice and money.

🥳🥳🥳


Thanks for reading!

Jaimin Desai - CEO & Co-Founder of Reconcile

www.getreconcile.com

P.S. please share the newsletter with other friends that would enjoy hearing about our journey!

Peep Reconcile's Siri demo

We're back with some great news and some fun long-format finds

Hey friend, happy Tuesday! Apologies for taking last week off on updates and finds. We’ve been preparing for our latest release and Afore Capital demo day, both of which are happening today!

It’s been quite the journey to get to this point, and I want to thank you all for being so supportive with feedback along the way! Here’s a quote from The Alchemist that encapsulates the ride so far, which I think many of my fellow dreamers will appreciate:

What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we've learned as we've moved toward that dream. That's the point at which most people give up. It's the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one 'dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.

It feels like we’re now seeing the palm trees on the horizon. Good days ahead for Reconcile because of you! 🏝🏝🏝


🚀 Reconcile Updates & Asks 🚀

  • As mentioned, we’re participating in Afore Capital’s demo day today! If you want to attend, you may still be able to sign up using this link.

  • Here’s a quick preview at our Siri experience, which can quickly offload your reconciliation process onto our smart AI instead


🤑 Fintech Finds 🤑

Going to leave behind noteworthy long-format reads and articles this week and will be back next Tuesday with more in-depth commentary!

  • Alex Johnson shared great insight into the future of small business lending, which to him is a lot like early stage startup investing - thinking more about what could be rather than what is today.

  • Rohit Sharma outlined the Buy Now Pay Later industry, which is on fire! The average American has over $6,000 in credit card debt. Yet, we continue to build solutions offering more credit. I truly think we’ve entered the Twilight Zone in financial solvency as there’s truly a lack of common sense about how much debt exists in the world. Honestly, does anyone think the US will ever repay the $20 trillion it owes? If the wealthiest nation in the world doesn’t pay off its debts, why should I? For the lower and middle class, whom the Buy Now Pay Later industry markets towards, it’s a very fair question. We need to rethink how we offer credit and if it’s fair for the more financially instable to be the profit centers for big banks and lenders, ESPECIALLY when their cost of capital is close to zero.


🤖 Voice Tech Finds 🤖

  • Matthew Bell wrote a very detailed piece on the future of audiotech and the drivers for winning the next frontier. Not exactly voice tech but there’s a connection with hearables like Airpods creating new behaviors for on-the-go voice and audio adoption.

  • Also found this gem from Venmo - to think they pioneered the P2P voice payment use case nine years ago …


Thanks for reading!

Jaimin Desai - CEO & Co-Founder of Reconcile

www.getreconcile.com

P.S. If you appreciate these newsletters and want to help us develop more content, we’re looking to bring a marketing lead onto the team. Reach out if you’re interested! Otherwise, would love it if you could help spread the word and share your favorite newsletter!!!

Share Money Bytes

The future of Reconcile and voice look bright!

Reconcile Newsletter - October 6, 2020

Hey everyone, happy Tuesday! It’s hard to believe that we’re already in mid-October. This year’s truly tested our patience, grit, and sanity. As a reminder, the team and I host meditation sessions every week in the mornings (EST). If you’re feeling overstressed and want a breather, pun-intended, join us for a refreshing 15 minutes!

Ann O'Dea on Twitter: "“@Herschberg: Come on inner peace - I don't have all  day! http://t.co/R1gAQBukKM” love it"

🚀 Reconcile Updates & Asks 🚀

The team and I have been coding and pitching almost non-stop for the last week, preparing for our latest release. In our downtime, we’ve been thinking about future state ideas, which we would like to share and get feedback on. Email back a yay or nay if you feel strongly about any of these ideas!

  • Adding an in-app voice assistant in addition to enabling Siri. As part of this, we’re exploring a Reconcile memoji to be your friendly, virtual financial assistant.

  • Incorporating an emotional intelligence layer into our voice engine so we can more empathetically respond to your requests. We want our assistant to make you feel empowered and at ease, so communicating effectively is a top priority for us!

  • Adding a social Q&A feed for you to easily ask and read responses to your most pressing financial questions. We ran a small experiment last week after writing about the prevalence of social finance and found that many of you appreciate the free advice that comes with. Click the tweet below to see the results.


🤑 Fintech Finds 🤑

  • Another day, another fintech launching a credit card or checking account. In this case, Venmo, Credit Karma, and Gusto are the culprits. Being in the space for a while now, I can confirm that almost every SMB and consumer-focused fintech roadmap outlines a potential credit/debit card or checking account. Why? Simply, fintech’s are looking to own more of the customer relationship and make incremental revenue on interchange and deposits. However, do these institutions really think consumers will shift away from their existing legacy banks? Ron Shevlin, the fintech guru, studied recent consumer checking account openings and found that mega-banks still dominated the space as they handled 70% of applications in Q2 of 2020. As a middle-aged millennial, I feel that fintech’s entering the banking and credit space should focus more on Gen Z as they’ve not been embraced or entrenched into the mega-bank ecosystem yet. Speaking from experience, I’ve been a Bank of America and Chase bank customer for almost a decade now, and even though I think both stink with their branding and digital products, I’m not going to switch banks anytime soon. There’s just too much friction and inertia to do so for me. This is where I think fintech upstarts need to focus on transformational product-building (i.e. what is a no-brainer product that I would be a fool not to buy into?). In the case of Venmo and Credit Karma, they’re focusing on marginal improvements to merchant rewards and digital user experience, which won’t dramatically shift customer behavior. We’ll see what happens, but I’m not really impressed with their new announcement 🤷🏽‍♂️


🤖 Voice Tech Finds 🤖


Thanks for reading!

Jaimin Desai - CEO & Co-Founder of Reconcile

www.getreconcile.com

P.S. If you appreciate these newsletters and want to help us develop more content, we’re looking to bring a marketing lead onto the team. Reach out if you’re interested! Otherwise, would love it if you could help spread the word and share your favorite newsletter!!!

Share Money Bytes

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