Launching Astra’s transfer automation platform for financial institutions and fintech companies

20230720 LaunchPad GA SQ 2
Gil Akos
Co-founder, CEO

Our technology enables developers to leverage fast, programmatic bank transfers at a 99.997% reliability rate, including accelerated 2-day ACH settlement.

Today we are excited to announce our official release of Astra’s platform for transfer automation. Through our vertically integrated API, you can now easily add powerful routines to your product so that your users can use rules to move money automatically between bank accounts. Developing with Astra means you benefit from increased user engagement through an advanced self-driving product experience while capturing more deposits from your customers’ network of connected accounts. As a fintech developer, whether you are trying to facilitate transfers across “me-to-me” (A2A), peer-to-peer (P2P), business-to-business (B2B), or consumer-to-business (C2B or B2C) routes, our system orchestrates transfers with best-in-class performance.

“Everything is Fintech” means more accounts and more complexity!

The emergence of an ever-increasing range of solutions enabled by financial technology has radically changed the relationship we have with our finances. The traditional model of one bank, all services has become many “banks” or financial products, with many accounts offered by more and more providers. The expansion of more accessible fintech infrastructure, Banking-as-a-Service companies, and debit card issuers means the graph representing our finances has more nodes than ever. As a result, the consumer of all of these accounts has to work to manage more complexity. In contrast, products that offer functionality across the consumer’s entire financial graph gain a massive advantage for engagement and retention!

A sample financial graph

The scale of this change to how many places we interact with our money is so significant that it’s hard to comprehend. The number of accounts offered is increasing overall and as consumers we are connecting new and existing accounts to services at an accelerating rate. Interestingly, the frequency at which consumers fully switch accounts also remains incredibly low. So swapping out nodes (aka accounts) entirely within our financial graph isn’t the key trend – consumers just continue to expand their financial graphs over time!

  • As of 2019, there were 200m accounts linked through Plaid, growing at a 115% annual rate (source)
  • In 2020, there were active 60m neobank accounts and that number is expected to grow to 145m by 2024 (source)
  • Yet only 4% of consumers switch their primary checking account each year (source)
Sources: Pitchbook, Visa

For consumers, the expansion of each of our financial graphs will exacerbate the challenge of complexity. For developers, the need to be able to connect seamlessly into the graph and establish the primary position where one interfaces with their finances becomes critical for product engagement and success. Integrating with a service that enables this interoperability with other accounts is great, but one that includes automated transfers is even better!

Funding accounts, now with speed and automation

Payment flow is the lifeblood of your business whether you are a legacy financial institution, a challenger bank, a personal finance management app, or a new embedded fintech product. If your product includes holding balances or facilitating spend, you need to get funds into your customers’ accounts ASAP. The sooner the money lands, the sooner you can showcase the great product experience you worked so hard to build, and the sooner that new customer can start generating revenue for your business. This is crucial at account opening, but even more important over time to keep healthy balances and ongoing customer activity in your product. The answer? Fast settlement and automated transfers!

Payments are an Iceberg Problem

At first glance, this seems like a simple proposition. Most account funding uses standard ACH, which is ubiquitous and cost-effective, but slow. Your customers may have to wait 3-4 business days to use their funds, and your partner bank may request additional holds for new customers. Why not just allow your customers to accelerate the settlement options like next-day, or same-day clearing? Over 3% of ACH transfers fail due to insufficient funds, return codes, and fraud, representing over $1 trillion in funds lost to the recipient banks. You’ve now turned your feature into a liability by increasing your risk exposure. And when you add dynamically calculated, automated transfers to this set of challenges, the surface area of the problem compounds. This is an Iceberg Problem, the deeper you go the more complex and costly it is to build your own solution – we know first hand because we built one for you!

Transfer performance through a vertically integrated API

The ideal technology would solve all of the above challenges for transfer processing, while abstracting away the underlying complexity of the Iceberg. This platform would be simple enough to build into your product in a matter of days, it would insulate you from risk and fraud, and it would create and process automated transfers that are both fast and automated for your customers. We spent the last two years refining a technical architecture that could accomplish just that and perform at a high level.

Astra's technical architecture

Astra’s vertically integrated API represents interoperable layers of technology for Identity, Automation, Orchestration, Routing, and Payments. Internally, our platform manages a wide range of states and logic for authorizations, real-time decisioning, risk assessments, and transfer lifecycle (queuing, sequencing, processing) – so that you don’t have to deal with these “complexifiers.”

Launch with Astra in days, with accelerated 2-day transfers

Building your solution with Astra means you can embed automated bank transfers in your product and launch these powerful capabilities in days not months. And through our unique platform architecture, we’ve achieved a 99.999% reliability rating for transfers landing as expected. Compared to a 3% failure rate, which can be as high as 3x that for new products, that’s an improvement of more than 1,000x compared to standard ACH. Because our transfer performance is so good, we can offer 2-day ACH processing with no charges for return code charges.

With faster settlement, “self-driving” financial automation, and best-in-class transfer performance out of the box, we are extremely excited to see what you’ll build with Astra’s API. And you can get started in our sandbox today!

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