Plaid is a company in the financial technology, or more commonly known as the “fintech” space, which was founded in 2013, pivoted sometime in 2014 and was purchased by Visa in January 2020 for $5.3 billion dollars.
Plaid was founded by two entrepreneurs who set out to develop a consumer app in the budgeting and account reconciliation field. A mobile or app-based version of Quicken or Intuits Quick Books where users could provide their credit cards and bank account and the interface would allow them to get some insights into their spending habits and create budgets and reports to better manage their personal finances. The startup entered and won a prestigious grand prize award during a TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon in New York in 2013 with their application which at that time was called “Rambler”. During the development process the founders recognized that one of the biggest challenges to building “Rambler” was the bank connectivity component – it was time consuming and resource intensive to develop a solution which connected to each financial institution. The duo wanted their application to connect to the majority of US banks and this required writing code which would need to securely connect and consume the banks exposed API’s for retrieving account information, transaction reports and transaction details. This development exercise was required for each new financial institution the company wanted to include in their app.