What is Plaid and how does it work?

Gabriela Peratello

Plaid¹ is a fintech company which offers secure ways for you to connect your financial information to apps like Venmo, Chime and Betterment. If you’ve been asked to use Plaid to connect an account with a financial app, you may be wondering — is Plaid legit?

Naturally you don’t want to hand your details over without understanding if Plaid is secure, what it does, and how Plaid for banking and finance apps really works. This guide covers all that, and also looks at how you can use Plaid with Wise to move money seamlessly from your Wise account to wherever you need it to be.

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What is Plaid?

So — what does Plaid do exactly?

You may have come across Plaid when downloading and registering with a financial app — like a budgeting tool, an app for making payments, or a wealth management product. Plaid is a fintech company which allows customers to connect their financial service providers securely with apps.

Banks and other financial service providers use Plaid to provide an extra layer of security for their customers when using financial apps. The services offered by Plaid are usually free for the consumer, as the financial service provider pays a fee to use Plaid in the first place.

How does Plaid work?

When you download a financial app and begin to set up an account you may be prompted to use Plaid to connect your bank or other financial service provider.

You’ll be redirected to a Plaid branded page, and you’ll enter your login information for the specific account you want to connect².

Plaid holds that information, and connects to your bank to verify it — like a middleman acting to ensure both sides are who they say they are.

To complete this process you might need to complete a secondary verification step, like entering your account 2 factor authentication information, or completing Plaid’s own verification.

Once your account has been verified by Plaid, you’ve created a secure connection between the app and your financial service provider. The information you need to send from your bank to the app can be safely transmitted, and you and your bank can rest assured the process is secure.

Where is Plaid used?

Any app you download which may need to access some of your financial information — like your transaction history, information about your account balances, investments or payments — might use Plaid to connect securely and seamlessly to your bank or other financial accounts.

There are quite a few different types of apps where you might meet Plaid — and the number of apps using Plaid is growing all the time.

Here are a few key ways Plaid is used, and the apps you might come across which offer Plaid signups³:

  • Mobile banking: Chime, Varo, MoneyLion and M1 Finance
  • Saving and investing: Digit, Acorns, Ellevest and Qapital
  • Personal finance: Albert, YNAB, Copilot and Truebill
  • Payments: Venmo, Wise, WorldRemit and Metal, Cash App
  • Lending: Petal, SoFi, Figure and Avant

Which banks are currently on Plaid?

Plaid is used by a huge range of banks and online platforms — you can get the full listing from the Plaid website to see if your bank is covered.

Here’s a rundown of some of the options which use Plaid, including major US banks and global financial services brands⁴:

  • Ally Bank

  • Discover

  • Capital One

  • Santander

  • US Bank

  • Wells Fargo

  • Bank of America

  • TD Bank

  • Vanguard

  • American Express

  • Barclaycard

An international account, a local's experience: meet Wise

plaid-connect

If you need to send international payments, or want to receive, hold, exchange and spend foreign currencies, check out the Wise account.

Wise accounts allow you to hold 40+ currencies, send payments to 160+ countries, and get paid like a local in up to 9 currencies.

There’s no charge to open a personal account, no minimum balance and no ongoing account maintenance costs. And for a small fee you can also get a linked Wise international debit card for spending and withdrawals in 150+ countries.

Whenever you need to convert currencies in your account, for spending with your linked card, or to make an international payment you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate, and low, transparent fees based on the services you need.

As a digital provider, Wise is always looking for ways to make it more convenient and secure to manage your money — no matter which currency it’s held in. That’s why Wise has partnered with Plaid to allow you to move USD funds from your Wise account safely and seamlessly — to Chime, Mercury, Robinhood and 6,000+ more apps and providers.

Just search for Wise when you’re directed to Plaid, and add your Wise USD account details to get started.

Get started with Wise

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.

How trustworthy is Plaid?

Plaid is a safe way to use financial apps without needing to hand over all your personal information to the app itself. It uses a broad range of cutting edge approaches to maintain customer safety and security, including⁵:

  • Plaid uses internationally recognized security standards which meet or exceed industry expectations

  • Data is protected with advanced encryption protocols

  • Your own bank’s — or Plaid’s — multi-factor authentication is used to connect account safely

  • Plaid is built on secure cloud infrastructure

  • There's a 24/7 anti-fraud process and protocol to keep accounts safe

  • Use Plaid Portal to manage and control any accounts you’ve already connected with Plaid


So there you have it — a full introduction to Plaid and how you can use Plaid to securely connect your financial information to apps to help you budget, make payments, invest and more.

Next time you’re prompted to use Plaid to set up a new app you’ll know exactly how the process works — and that you’re safe to go ahead and link your account securely.


Sources:

  1. Plaid
  2. Plaid - How it works
  3. Plaid - Discover Plaid apps
  4. Plaid - Institutions
  5. Plaid - Trust and safety

Sources checked on 09.25.2022


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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