Skip to main content

Plaid

Plaid is the market leader in bank account connectivity - allowing individuals and companies to connect their bank accounts to support various use cases.

Unit has established a partnership with Plaid. This partnership facilitates two main use cases:

  1. Move funds between accounts on Unit and any external bank account using Plaid Link
  2. Allow your customer's Unit accounts to be discoverable and connected to, from more than 5,000 apps and services in the Plaid network using Plaid Exchange

Plaid Link#

Plaid Link is a service that allows a customer to connect to their bank account from any app or service, assuming the institution that account is on is connected to Plaid.

By providing their username and password, the account holder authenticates against the account, generating an access token.

info

As a fallback to providing a username and password (in case the authentication consistently fails, or the customer is hesitant to share their credentials), Plaid supports a micro deposit based authentication flow. Accounts that were authenticated using micro-deposits do not support Plaid Balance and Identity.

Thanks to Unit's partnership with Plaid, you will also receive a Plaid processor token, which can be shared with Unit. The processor token allows Unit to access other Plaid services related to the account on your behalf. These services include Auth (returns the account information), Identity (returns the account holder information) and Balance (returns the account Balance information).

Unit API endpoints that can receive a Plaid processor token are:

  • Create a Counterparty with a Plaid Token: use this endpoint if you foresee making multiple payments to or from the external bank account. Unit will then create a counterparty representing the external account described in the Plaid token, and you can refer to it when creating all future payments.
  • Create an ACH Payment with a Plaid Token: use this endpoint if you plan to make one casual payment to or from the external bank account. Unit will create a payment with the counterparty being the external account described in the Plaid token. However, no linked counterparty resource will be created.

NOTE

Plaid Link tokens can become invalid, in which case a payment will be rejected due to a PlaidLoginRequired. To renew Plaid Link, follow the steps in this guide.

Benefits#

  1. Avoid the need to handle sensitive account and routing numbers.
  2. Allow your customer to Move funds to an external account, or make payments to third parties.
  3. Authenticate external accounts to enable origination of ACH debits, which can be used to fund the Unit account or bill a third party.
  4. Enjoy additional fraud protection by enabling Plaid Identity.
  5. Minimize returns when originating ACH debits by enabling Plaid Balance when originating ACH debits from the connected account.

Prerequisites#

To use Plaid Link, you would need to establish a commercial relationship with Plaid. Contact Unit for an introduction to the relevant Plaid contact.

Implementation#

Follow the instructions for Unit clients, on Plaid's technical documentation

Customer Experience#

Connecting to a bank account through Plaid Link is typically done using the account's default authentication method (e.g. username and password). An alternative method is micro-deposits - both options are facilitated by Plaid.

Plaid Exchange#

Unit's Plaid Exchange integration will allow you to add your brand as an institution to Plaid’s open finance platform Plaid Exchange.

info

The Plaid Exchange integration is a hands-off integration, all you have to do is to provide Unit your brand name and logo (in SVG format, 152x152). Contact Unit if you would like to add your organization to Plaid Exchange.

Connect your organization to Plaid Exchange

Official Account Name#

On Plaid Exchange, accounts under the same customer should each have a unique official name, for example checking or savings.

Unit will assign a name to each account by using the following values (in order of precedence):

  • officialName tag on the account
  • purpose tag on the account
  • The depositProduct of the account

In order to control the official account name, set the officialName tag to the name you choose. Please make sure the name is unique (within the same customer). If the name provided is not unique, Unit would add a sequence number as a suffix.

Hiding Accounts#

In order to hide accounts on Plaid Exchange, set a hide tag on the account to true.

Plaid Identity#

Once you connect to an account using Plaid Link, you may utilize Plaid Identity. When adding a counterparty, setting the verifyName flag to true will result in a call to Plaid Identity which could result in additional Plaid costs.

Benefits#

Enabling Plaid Identity allows Unit to retrieve the external account owner's details.

Matching details provided by Plaid with the information Unit has on file is particularly useful in preventing ACH debit fraud when funding the Unit account.

Implementation#

When creating a counterparty using a Plaid processor token, set the "verifyName" flag to "true". Unit will compare the counterparty name you have provided, to the name received by Plaid Identity, using a fuzzy matching algorithm, and prevent the counterparty creation if the names do not match.

Plaid Balance#

When originating ACH debits from external accounts that were added using Plaid Link, you can enable Plaid Balance. Using Plaid Balance could result in additional Plaid costs.

Benefits#

Enabling Plaid Balance allows Unit to retrieve the external account's balance. This allows you to reduce the chances of the ACH being returned due to insufficient funds.

Implementation#

When creating an ACH payment using a Plaid token or creating an ACH payment to a linked counterparty, set the "verifyCounterpartyBalance" flag to "true". If there are insufficient funds in the external account at that point in time, the payment will be rejected.

How-to#

Helping a Customer Fund Their Account#

Example: you've just created a deposit account for an individual customer. You'd like to help them fund it from a bank account that they own on another institution (e.g. Chase).

Follow these steps:

  1. Use Plaid to authenticate the customer's account on Chase
  2. Create a counterparty with the Plaid Token. Set the counterparty name to the name of the Unit Customer, and to set the verifyName set to true, in order to minimize the risk of ACH debit fraud.
  3. Initiate an ACH Debit payment with the newly created counterparty to pull funds from Chase. Set the verifyBalance flag to true to minimize the risk of fraud or an ACH return.

Helping a Customer Withdraw Funds from Their Account#

Example: a business customer holds an account with you and wants to send funds from it into a bank account on another institution (e.g. Wells Fargo).

Follow these steps:

  1. Use Plaid to authenticate the customer's account on Wells Fargo
  2. Create a counterparty with the Plaid Token
  3. Initiate an ACH Credit payment with the newly created counterparty to send funds to Wells Fargo

Helping a Customer Bill a Third Party#

Example: a business customer holds a deposit account with you and wants to bill a client that has an account on another institution (e.g. Bank of America) for an invoice.

Follow these steps:

  1. Use Plaid to authenticate the customer's account on Chase
  2. Create a counterparty with the Plaid Token. Set the counterparty name to the name of the external account owner, and to set the verifyName set to true, in order to minimize the risk of ACH debit fraud.
  3. Initiate an ACH Debit payment with the newly created counterparty to pull funds from Bank of America

Helping a Customer Pay a Third Party#

Example: a business customer holds a deposit account with you and wants to pay a vendor that has an account on another institution (e.g. Bank of America)

Follow these steps:

  1. Use Plaid to authenticate the third party account on Bank of America
  2. Create a counterparty with the Plaid Token
  3. Initiate an ACH Credit payment with the newly created counterparty to send funds to Bank of America