Plaid introduces Liabilities to create debt-tracking apps, starting with student loans

Plaid has always been about helping developers build financial applications. Up until now that has involved standard checking and savings, and more recently investments. Today, they are introducing a new product called Liabilities endpoint to help developers build applications around debt. For starters, they are taking aim at a big problem in the US, student loan debt.

The product will expand to cover other kinds of debt over time, but the company wanted to start with student loans because of the depth of the problem. “We’re launching with student loan data given the crisis levels it has reached in the U.S., where it is the second largest debt category behind mortgage. Today, over 44 million people, hold $1.6 trillion in outstanding loans,” Plaid’s Kate Adamson wrote in a blog post introducing the new product.

She added that this level of debt is having an impact on people’s ability to save for larger life milestones like getting married, buying a home and saving for retirement. Plaid says that it is launching this new product to help developers build applications that will in turn help borrowers better manage their debt.

To do this, the new API gives developers access to data from a number of large student loan debt managers including Navient, Nelnet, FedLoan, Great Lakes and others. Eventually, they hope to layer on other types of debt services, so that developers can build applications with a total view of a person’s debt, and perhaps suggest ways to reduce it more quickly, or understand how the accruing interest is adding to their overall debt load.

The Liabilities product along with the investments tool introduced earlier this year shows that Plaid is trying to expand into a full service financial technology platform. Among the companies using Plaid to power their apps are Transferwise, Venmo, Acorns, Robinhood and Expensify.

The company has raised over $350 million since it launched in 2012. The most recent round at the end of last year was for $250 million at a $2.65 billion valuation.




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