French fintech startup Lydia is going to work with financial API startup Tink for its open banking features in its app. Lydia started as a peer-to-peer payment app and now has 4 million users in Europe.
Lydia’s vision has evolved to become a financial super app that lets you control your bank accounts and access various financial services. In France, you can connect your Lydia account with your bank account using Budget Insight’s Budgea API.
Over the coming weeks, Lydia is going to switch over and use Tink for most clients going forward. If you have a bank account in a small French bank, Lydia might still use Budget Insight for those accounts.
“It’s going to be a progressive rollout and we’ll use the best service depending on our users,” Lydia co-founder and CEO Cyril Chiche told me.
Open banking is a broad concept and covers many different things. In Lydia’s case, we’re talking about two features in particular — account aggregation and payment initiation.
In the app, you can connect your bank accounts and view the most recent transactions. This feature is important if you want to become the go-to financial app on your users’ home screen.
As for payment initiation, as the name suggests, it lets you start a SEPA bank transfer from a third-party service. For instance, you can transfer money from your bank account to your Lydia wallet directly in the Lydia app. You can also move money between multiple bank accounts from Lydia.
Tink provides a single API that manages all the complexities of the information systems of European banks. An API is a programming interface that lets two different services talk and interact with each other. Tink does the heavy lifting and translates each banking API into a predictable API that you can use for all banks.
Since 2018, banks have to provide some kind of API due to Europe’s DSP2 regulation. It’s been a slow start as many French banks still don’t provide a usable API. But it’s slowly evolving.
Tink’s API supports 15 financial institutions in France, including major banks, N26, Revolut and American Express. And it covers a dozen European markets, which is going to be important if Lydia wants to grab more users outside of its home country.
“At first, it’s not going to add new things to the app. But it will allow us to provide features in a very stable environment and at a European scale,” Chiche said.
“We want to have the most uniform product across different markets,” he added later in the conversation.
Pay with your card or with your bank account
When you first install Lydia and want to pay back a friend, you associate your debit card with your Lydia account. The startup charges your card before sending money to your friend.
If open banking APIs become the norm, you could imagine grabbing money from someone’s bank account directly instead of paying card processing fees. But this sort of features is nowhere near ready for prime time.
“What made us choose card payments is that it’s a stable system with widespread usage — and it works every time. When you’re dealing with payments, it has to work every single time,” Chiche said.
Lydia isn’t changing anything on this front for now. But you could imagine some changes in a few years. “We are the beginning of a new system that is not going to be ready within the next 18 months,” Chiche said.
Cards also provide many advantages, such as the ability to chargeback a card. And card schemes have been trying new things, such as the ability to transfer money directly from a card to another card. So you’re not going to ditch your Mastercard or Visa card anytime soon. But Chiche thinks there will be some competition in Europe between DSP2-ready banks and card schemes. European consumers should see the benefits of increased competition.
In other news, Lydia usage dropped quite drastically during the full lockdown earlier this year. But transaction volume has bounced back since then and reached all-time highs. The company processes €250 million in transactions every month and it is currently adding 5,000 new users every day.
At TechCrunch Disrupt today, SmartNews announced the release of major new features for the American version of its news discovery app, designed to make it easier for users to get updates about the elections, COVID-19 and the weather.
Several features focus on the presidential race, and other candidates up for vote this year. SmartNews, which has spent the past two years building its coverage of local news, also added sections devoted to local elections and ballot measures, and information on how to register to vote and cast a ballot.
During his Disrupt session, SmartNews co-founder, chief operating officer and chief engineer Kaisei Hamamato said the goal of the app’s new election features is to make it the “one-stop solution” for voters seeking information.
Another new feature is centered on the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes an expanded case counter that now breaks them down by county; the latest information on local closings, re-opening and other pandemic-related policies; and a vaccine and drug development tracker with a timeline of news articles from different sources.
The final new feature is a “hyper-localized” weather report. Launched as Americans in many states are coping with wildfires or extreme weather events like hurricanes, the SmartNews’ Weather Radar uses its patented radar map design to show neighborhood-specific forecasts, including the predicted onset and intensity of rainfall.
Founded in 2012 in Japan, SmartNews launched its American version in 2014, and shows articles from 3,000 publishing partners around the world. While its news discovery is mostly driven by machine learning-based algorithms, the company’s team also includes veteran journalists who help develop new features. In the United States, SmartNews has focused on addressing increasing media polarization with features intended to help break readers out of the kind of information bubbles they encounter on social media apps.
Last year, SmartNews launched its News From All Sides feature in the U.S., which shows articles on a single topic from publications across the political spectrum that users can toggle through using a slider. Created for readers who want to see other perspectives, but might be overwhelmed by online searches, News From All Sides has been adapted for the 2020 presidential election, displaying articles about Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
The spreadsheet-centric database and no-code platform Airtable today announced that it has raised a $ 185 million Series D funding round, putting the company at a $ 2.585 billion post-money valuation.
Thrive Capital led the round, with additional funding by existing investors Benchmark, Coatue, Caffeinated Capital and CRV, as well as new investor D1 Capital. With this, Airtable, which says it now has 200,000 companies using its service, has raised a total of about $ 350 million. Current customers include Netflix, HBO, Condé Nast Entertainment, TIME, City of Los Angeles, MIT Media Lab and IBM.
In addition, the company is also launching one of its largest feature updates today, which start to execute on the company’s overall platform vision that goes beyond its current no-code capabilities and bring more low-code features, as well new automation (think IFTTT for Airtable) and data management tools to the service.
As Airtable founder and CEO Howie Liu told me, a number of investors approached the company since it raised its Series C round in 2018, in part because the market clearly realized the potential size of the low-code/no-code market.
“I think there’s this increasing market recognition that the space is real, and the spaces is very large […],” he told me. “While we didn’t strictly need the funding, it allowed us to continue to invest aggressively into furthering our platform, vision and really executing aggressively, […] without having to worry about, ‘well, what happens with COVID?’ There’s a lot of uncertainty, right? And I think even today there’s still a lot of uncertainty about what the next year will bear.”
The company started opening the round a couple of months after the first shelter in place orders in California and for most investors, this was a purely digital process.
Liu has always been open about the fact that he wants to build this company for the long haul — especially after he sold his last company to Salesforce at an early stage. As a founder, that likely means he is trying to keep his stake in the company high, even as Airtable continues to raise more money. He argues, though, that more so than the legal and structural controls, being aligned with his investors is what matters most.
“I think actually, what’s more important in my view, is having philosophical alignment and expectations alignment with the investors,” he said. “Because I don’t want to be in a position where it comes down to a legal right or structural debate over the future of the company. That almost feels to me like the last resort where it’s already gotten to a place where things are ugly. I’d much rather be in a position where all the investors around the table, whether they have legal say or not, are fully aligned with what we’re trying to do with this business.”
“You may or may not need an escape valve and obviously, we’ve gotten this far with 200,000 organizations using Airtable without that kind of escape valve,” he noted. “But I think that we open up a lot more use cases when you can say, well, Airtable by itself is 99% there, but that last 1% is make or break. You need it. And then, just having that outlet and making it much more leveraged to build that use case on Airtable with 1% effort, rather than building the full-stack application as a custom built application is all the difference.”
The last new feature is Airtable Sync. With this, teams can more easily share data across an organization, while also providing controls for who can see what. “The goal is to enable people who built software with Airtable to make that software interconnected and to be able to share a source of truth table between different instances of our tables,” Liu explained.
Hello, I've been reading a lot about the MoSCoW method and more which needs to prioritize what features are going to be out of the app and which ones are staying.
I am a team of 1, I am developing the app by myself, but it's hard for me to know what i need to program first, my idea has a lot of features but what should i Keep?
Api.video, a “developer-first” video platform that makes it easier for websites and apps to video features, has raised $ 5.5 million, in a seed round led by London venture capital firm Blossom Capital. Also participating is Kima Ventures and a number of angel investors.
Previous backers include Octave Klaba (founder of OVH), Eduardo Ronzano (founder of KelDoc), Thibaud Elzière (founder of Fotolia), Nicolas Steegmann (founder of Stupeflix), Julien Romanetto & Frédéric Montagnon (co-founders of Teads) Florian Douetteau (founder of Dataiku) and Michaël Benabou and Dominique Romano (Veepee).
Founded in 2019 by Cédric Montet, the former founder and CEO of Libcast’s live streaming and on-demand SaaS video platform, api.video aims to do a lot of the heavy lifting required to incorporate modern video functionality into websites and mobile apps, and in turn help grow the market for what it calls “transactional video communications”.
“This could include video reviews filmed by holidaymakers uploaded to the likes of airbnb; clips posted to peer-learning, educational sites that help explain complex parts of a curriculum; or audiovisual contents in collaborative platforms that are usually text-oriented,” explains the French company.
To make this possible, api.video’s platform promises to abstract the multi-step processes of modern online video into a a single API that offers transcoding, hosting, delivery and analytics. Or, put simply, the startup wants to become the Twilio for video.
“Most apps and websites today are based around sharing text and images, because video – until now – has simply been too complex to implement,” Montet tells me. “Whether it’s for hotel reviews, dating sites, e-learning, collaborative and customer service platforms or online marketplaces, video offers the ability to convey depth beyond what text and images can”.
However, the problem that many companies, particularly those that don’t have video at the core of the business, have held back from introducing such features due to complexity and despite increasing demand from audiences.
“Api.video solves these problems by not only enabling developers within any company, of any size and type, to unlock the potential of video with only a few lines of code. But it offers a complete end-to-end solution with a transparent pricing plan and a single bill,” explains Montet.
The result is that developers can build transactional video communications “at scale,” he says, regardless of the systems their companies use or the type of content they need.
To that end, Montet says the funding from Blossom Capital and Kima Ventures will be used to grow the api.video team internationally and to “penetrate new markets”.
“We’re also looking to hire the best talent to achieve our tech goals of ultra-low latency streaming and building a global EDGE Infrastructure. We’ll add open-source plugins for popular platforms, such as WordPress, e-learning environments and collaborative platforms. We aim to keep providing an excellent documentation and native SDK in the most popular languages to help our users to integrate video without hassle”.
No business is immune to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve seen Airbnb — a company particularly susceptible to this black swan event — go through an insane design sprint. Even enterprise collaboration tools have felt it, with Box readjusting its product road map to focus on how the tool worked for remote employees.
InVision has also seen the change in its users behavior and adapted accordingly. Freehand, the company’s collaborative whiteboarding tool has seen a huge surge in users and the startup has added a handful of new features to the product.
The company says that Freehand is seeing 130% growth in weekly active users since March.
New features include sticky notes that come in multiple color, size and text options, as well as templates to give teams a jumping off point for their whiteboarding exercise. Freehand has six new templates to start — brainstorming, wireframing, retrospectives, standups, diagrams and ice breakers — with more to be added more soon.
InVision has also added a “presenting” mode to Freehand.
Because this virtual whiteboard has no space constraints, it can literally zoom out to infinity and is restricted only by the imagination of the team working on it. In “presenting” mode, a team leader can take over the view of the virtual whiteboard to guide their team through one part of the content at a time.
Freehand has an integration with Microsoft Teams and Slack, and also has a new shortcut where users can type “freehand.new” into any browser to start on a fresh whiteboard.
Interestingly, the user growth around Freehand doesn’t just come from the usual suspects of design, product and engineering teams. Departments across organizations, including HR, marketing and IT teams, are coming to Freehand to collaborate on projects and tasks. More than 60 percent of Freehand users are not coming from the design team.
InVision has also added some fine-tuning features, such as a brand new toolbar to allow for easier drawing of shapes, alignment, color and opacity features, and better controls for turning lines into precise arrows or end-points for diagrams.
One of the most interesting things about Freehand is that it allows for democratized access to the whiteboard itself. With no restraints on time or space, and with no one gatekeeping up at the front of the room holding the marker, all members of a team can go in and add their thoughts and ideas to the whiteboard before, during or after a meeting.
“One of the nice things about a whiteboard or a virtual whiteboard like this one is it removes the aspects of the restrictions of time and space, so teams can have more efficient meetings where they get the benefit of democratic input without the cost of having only one person at a time being able to speak or add,” said David Fraga, InVision President. “It offers a synchronous collision of collaboration.”
InVision has raised a total of $ 350 million from investors like FirstMark, Spark, Battery, Accel and Tiger Global Management. The company now boasts more than 7 million total registered users, with 100 of the Fortune 100 companies using the product. InVision is also part of the $ 100 million ARR club.
If I write all of the features that my product will have after the beta version, beta testers might get disappointed but I send them emails weekly about roadmap so they are not going to encounter anything different than I wrote about.
What do you think?
Meet Watchful, a Tel Aviv-based startup coming out of stealth that wants to help you learn more about what your competitors are doing when it comes to mobile app development. The company tries to identify features that are being tested before getting rolled out to everyone, giving you an advantage if you’re competing with those apps.
Mobile app development has become a complex task, especially for the biggest consumer apps, from social to e-commerce. Usually, mobile development teams work on a new feature and try it out on a small subset of users. That process is called A/B testing as you separate your customers in two buckets — bucket A or bucket B.
For instance, Twitter is trying out its own version of Stories called Fleets. The company first rolled it out in Brazil to track the reaction and get some data from its user base. If you live anywhere else in the world, you’re not going to see that feature.
There are other ways to select a group of users to try out a new feature — you could even take part in a test because you’ve been randomly picked.
“When you open the app, you’ll probably see a different version from the app I see. You’re in a different region, you have a different device,” co-founder and CEO Itay Kahana told me. He previously founded popular to-do app Any.do.
For product designers, it has become a nightmare as you can’t simply open an app and look at what your competitors are doing. At any point in time, there are as many different versions of the same app as there are multiple A/B tests going on at the same time.
Watchful lets you learn from the competition by analyzing all those different versions and annotating changes in user flows, flagging unreleased features and uncovering design changes.
It is different from other mobile intelligence startups, such as App Annie or Sensor Tower. Those services mostly let you track downloads and rankings on the App Store and Play store to uncover products that are doing well.
“We’re focused on everything that is open and visible to the users,” Kahana said.
Like other intelligence startups, Watchful needs data. App Annie acquired a VPN app called Distimo and a data usage monitoring app called Mobidia. When you activate those apps, App Annie captures data about your phone usage, such as the number of times you open an app and how much time you spend in those apps.
According to a BuzzFeed News report, Sensor Tower has operated at least 20 apps on iOS and Android to capture data, such as Free and Unlimited VPN, Luna VPN, Mobile Data and Adblock Focus. Some of those apps have been removed from the stores following BuzzFeed’s story.
I asked a lot of questions about Watchful’s source of data. “It’s all real users that give us access to this information. It’s all running on real devices, real users. We extract videos and screenshots from them,” Kahana said.
“It’s more like a panel of users that we have access to their devices. It’s not an SDK that is hidden in some app and collects information and do shady stuff,” he added.
You’ll have to trust him as the company didn’t want to elaborate further. Kahana also said that data is anonymized in order to remove all user information.
Images are then analyzed by a computer vision algorithm focused on differential analysis. The startup has a team in the Philippines that goes through all that data and annotates it. It is then sent to human analysts so that they can track apps and write reports.
Watchful shared one of those reports with TechCrunch earlier this year. Thanks to this process, the startup discovered that TikTok parent company ByteDance has been working on a deepfake maker. The feature was spotted in both TikTok and its Chinese sister app Douyin.
But Watchful’s customers aren’t news organizations. The company sells access to its service to big companies working in the mobile space. Kahana didn’t want to name them, but it said it is already working with “the biggest social network players and the biggest e-commerce players, mainly in the U.S.”
The startup sells annual contracts based on the number of apps that you want to track. It has raised a $ 3 million seed round led by Vertex Ventures .