Plaid celebrates 12 months in Europe with an eye towards Open Finance

By Oliver Smith on Monday 8 June 2020

Digital Banking

A watershed moment, when it eventually arrives.

Plaid celebrates 12 months in Europe with an eye towards Open Finance
Image source: Keith Grose/Plaid.

It’s hard to believe that just 12 months ago Plaid surprise-expanded to Europe with the announcement that it had already helped with the launch of Emma, the financial management app.

Now the US fintech is celebrating its first year in Europe with 30 employees spread across London and Amsterdam offices (albeit with the majority working from home at the moment).

“It’s gone great,” Plaid’s international lead for Europe Keith Grose told AltFi. “I feel like we’ve become ingrained in the tech scene and open banking community.”

Certainly Plaid’s client list has grown quickly to include the likes of British accountancy giant Sage, rental insurance group Canopy, budgeting app Cleo and digital banking giant Monzo is listed on Plaid’s website.

“We’re now well on our way to becoming a European company, as opposed to a division of a US company,” says Grose, adding that Plaid’s decentralised approach means Europe has its own product and engineering team designed to let Grose’s team respond to local needs.

One of those key needs is for open banking providers to deepen their service offerings, including moving into the world of Open Finance—that is, adding data access beyond simply what happens in a person’s bank account.

“Open Finance in general is a topic that I’m personally passionate about, payments and payments data only get you so far,” says Grose.

“Until you have more, you can’t really help people manage their financial lives.”

Open Finance is a watershed moment for Open Banking, opening up these service providers to whole new avenues of data including in our savings, credit cards, loans, mortgages, SME finance, pensions and even digital identity—or at least it will be, when it arrives.

The UK financial regulator’s call for input on setting a new Open Finance standard is open until October, after which point it’s far from clear how long new standards will take.

Last week Plaid published a report on Open Finance with fintech consultancy 11:FS, with the findings based on their joint submission to the FCA’s call for input.

“It’s still going to be a trend where there are winners and losers, but ultimately people are going to be the winners,” says Grose.

“You need to let the market help you,” he adds, a nod towards the US where Plaid helped to open up data in the market by knocking on the doors of big banks and building a one-stop-shop for open banking access.

Plaid’s $5.3bn acquisition by Visa in January (a deal which is ongoing and has yet to complete) is testament to just how valuable such an approach can be.

Whether Plaid can create the same amount of value here in Europe where, thanks to industry standards like PSD2 and Open Banking, basic account aggregation has quickly become the standard for open banking providers like Tink, TrueLayer and Bud, we’ll have to wait and see.

Read more: Fintechs like Plaid have a “responsibility” to delay returning to the office, says CEO Zach Perret

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