The Automation Platform for your Money

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

The evolution of fintech and what's ahead for Astra in 2020

Astra is an automation platform that helps you put your finances on autopilot, saving you time while efficiently routing your money between accounts. It gives your bank superpowers through programmatic routines that move your funds – all automatically. Whether you are a consumer or small business, and regardless of if you have accounts with a big bank, an online bank, your local credit union, or all of the above, Astra manages the complexity of your financial life for you.

We are in the midst of the Third Wave of disruption within financial technology – one with the potential to dramatically change the landscape of banking and actually fulfill the promises of “fintech”: a more accessible, personal, and efficient financial system. Yes, we already have more choices than ever to fulfill our needs across all aspects of our finances, but are we better off as consumers? Is managing our money easier? More simple? Not yet!

Astra is the technology that builds on the best of fintech, empowering us to do more with our money while also reducing the complexity of our financial lives. Astra is not a bank, but a platform that systematically routes cash between any source and any destination – simply connect your accounts, customize the rules of a routine, and Astra does the rest.

First Bank of the United States | Philadelphia, PA | Chartered 1791 [Wikipedia]

How did we get here?
The traditional consumer-bank relationship was exactly that – a relationship. In the traditional banking model, you could walk into your local bank branch and talk to a real person that was “your” banker. You checked in with this person periodically and kept most of your accounts with this bank. When you sought to start a college savings plan for your daughter, your default provider was most likely found under that same roof. Vertical banking, all your products in one place! A convenient and personal setup for your finances.

To date, the widespread adoption of the internet has ushered in two waves of development in financial technology, each affecting this vertical banking relationship and taking on inefficiencies at the system level to increasing effect. The first wave enabled better user experiences for financial products through access to more financial data. Our budgeting apps could now connect to all of our bank accounts and give us recommendations that are meaningful to each of us. The second wave enabled more customized solutions through access to the core products of finance via infrastructure. We can now sign up for a checking account with a brand new provider with features that are perfect for the niche group to which I belong.

Unbundling of Banking [CB Insights]

But what does this mean for our financial lives?
From a macro perspective for banking, both of these trends should be a net positive for the consumer. Access to data should mean better financial tools overall and access to infrastructure should mean more options brought to us by the roughly 5,000 fintech startups. The traditional banking model becoming “unbundled” into narrower offerings and existing internet services adding financial products to their offerings should also mean there are superior choices from which to select. So we end up with more accounts from more providers, but is our day to day experience as consumers better?

Complete graphs with bi-directional edges and number of possible connections

With so many choices and so many places to manage our money, our financial lives have never been more complicated and, despite the initial promise of fintech, full of friction. The complexity increases for each new account that we might add to the mix, regardless of whether that account is in isolation better than the equivalent that we had prior or had available to us previously. Each new account we have increases the number of potential connections exponentially, adding overhead and friction to managing our flow of funds. This is a systemic truth and has absolutely nothing to do with how financially literate we are or how well we budget. Because this is a structural condition and a complex system, it is perfectly addressed through software.

We need smart automation that removes all the unnecessary friction from personal financial management and that makes sure money is going to the most effective places at the right times. Astra is one of the cornerstone pieces of tech we need to make that happen.

Jake Gibson

The Third Wave
The first two waves of fintech have established an amazing foundation to build upon. But to really empower each of us and make the financial system more efficient overall, we need a solution that reduces complexity for the consumer. It should bring all the segmented products from every provider into one consistent user experience. And its technology should make the utility in those products cross-functional while reducing the work we have to put in to manage our money. We need a platform that works universally across all of our financial accounts and processes transfers, payments, and savings – all automatically.

Programmatic Routines with Astra

Astra is that platform. It’s flexible enough to give your bank accounts superpowers, regardless of how many accounts you have or from which institution, yet powerful enough to remove the headache of coordinating where cash should go when. You get the added advantage of all the improvements to software and products from the prior two waves of fintech, while participating in the dawn of the third – financial platforms that do work for us while enabling both infinite choice (i.e. which accounts do I want) and instant gratification (i.e. where my money should go) through automation.

The trajectory ahead for Astra!
We are proud to be a part of the next wave of fintech and we’ve spent the last year building the core functionality for the Astra platform. Today, you can use the Astra app to set up automation routines for your finances that will process a transfer or send you notification based on the settings or triggers you specify. We’ve helped thousands of users automatically transfer funds between their accounts and we are just getting started!

We are also excited to be joined on our mission by an amazing group of investors. Today our company is announcing that we have raised $1.5m led by Will Quist at Slow Ventures, with participation from fintech founders Jake Gibson (Nerdwallet) and Louis Beryl (Earnest) as well as Johnny Ayers (Socure), Tommy Leep (Jetstream), Yardley Pohl (Women in Product), Hustle Fund, and Alumni Ventures Group.

This funding will enable us to expand the Astra platform by developing more routines and utilizing a broader set of transfer types. Along with our existing partners at Plaid and Dwolla, we have a number of exciting partnerships in the works to enable faster transfer speeds and to move money in more ways, all on our users’ behalf.

As we head into a new year, a new decade, and a new wave of fintech, we have even more in store for you. Here’s to 2020 and beyond – Ad Astra! ????

Do you enjoy tough technical challenges and seeing the impact of automation on your finances? We just so happen to be hiring too. Send us a line!

Want to give our app a try? Let us know what you think or what you’d like to see!