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
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
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!!!