ACH automation platform Astra is seeing its customer base grow after launching a partnership with Plaid last month that allows the financial aggregator and integration platform to offer a connection to Astra through its dashboard.
The partnership allows Astra to benefit from Plaid’s ecosystem of developers looking for an automation platform to handle ACH transfers. It also supports developers using Plaid by providing them with a way to streamline consumer payments, explained Paul Williamson, head of revenue and partnerships at Plaid.
“Digital finance creates opportunities to streamline consumer payment experiences across a wide range of use cases,” Williamson told Bank Automation News. “Integrating Plaid with platforms like Astra can make it faster and easier for developers to build the types of seamless, automated money movement experiences that consumers want.”
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based Astra, which was founded in 2016, is used by challenger banks, fintechs and software-as-a-service (SaaS) developers to automate rules around ACH transfers. For instance, a fintech might use Astra to move money from a bank account to another every time a balance reaches a certain trigger threshold. Astra offers ACH transfers at three speeds — transfer plus one, two, or four days, Astra co-founder and CEO Gil Akos told BAN.
Akos sees three popular use cases for Astra and Plaid emerging:
- Funding accounts for challenger banks, which is how Daylight, a challenger bank for the LGBT+ community, uses Astra to securely handle inbound deposits.
- Transferring funds between accounts, based on rules. The bitcoin rewards debit card and bitcoin-backed shopping app Fold uses both Plaid and Astra to securely transfer money from a bank account to Fold. Astra gathers the data through Plaid and processes the transactions, complete with settlements.
- Transferring funds from individuals to SaaS companies and marketplaces. For instance, a property management app can embed payments into the app and uses Plaid and Astra to transfer money from the renter’s account to the property manager. “Now they can embed payments and they can accept payments from their renters,” Akos said.
Banks and credit unions could also leverage the partnership to enhance their transfer automations, Akos added. “Astra does that whole process: captures the routine details, tracks the inputs, when it’s been triggered, we execute the transaction processing function,” he said.
The Plaid and Astra partnership took about six months to finalize, but the actual technical integration took only about four weeks, including testing, in part because Plaid and Astra offer API-based integrations, Akos said.
In related news, Plaid this week announced a partnership with the $84.5 billion Silicon Valley Bank that will allow the bank’s clients to instantly authenticate bank account information with Plaid, which will also support secure ACH payments. The bank’s integration with Plaid is through a tokenized system that allows for ACH routing and account numbers to be passed along securely. The bank will be able to take the token and complete the ACH payment through its integration with Plaid.
Astra has raised $5 million over three funding rounds, according to the company; the San Francisco, Calif.-based Plaid has raised $734.3 million over seven funding rounds, according to Crunchbase.