In 2020, it’s really easy to send money, but still hard to share it.
It often goes like this: in a situation with shared expenses, someone ends up “The Treasurer”. This is the person who tracks the expenses, splits them up, and collects. It can be one person, or several. These Treasurers are everywhere: in shared houses/apartments, romantic relationships, families, bands, group trips, and more.
Payment apps have come a long way in the last decade, and it’s now trivial to send someone a one-time payment. But it gets annoying when you are splitting more than one expense. Do you split up each one individually, at the time of payment? Do you use a tracking app (there are many great ones), or make a spreadsheet? In all these situations, someone pays first, and the expense has to be tracked.
“Group accounts” don’t really exist. The best thing out there is a joint bank account. To get one, you might have to switch banks or open a new checking account. Some banks require all the signers to come into a branch together to set one up, and some joint accounts don’t let you see who is spending what, because the account, routing and debit cards all have the same numbers.
Braid is a group account for shared expenses. We’ve been working on it for a while and we’re excited to share it with you today. We’re also going to share some of what we’ve learned from our early users, the ways they are using it, and the product features we’ve built to address this feedback. The app is available for iOS, and Android. Check it out and let us know what you think.
INTRODUCING BRAID GROUPS.
Our group accounts exist inside a messaging app. Why messaging? When there’s shared money, there’s usually a conversation. Why is the gas bill so high this month? Can I get you back next week when I get paid? Who is buying groceries this weekend?
Money is inherently social, and shared money especially so. A group chat is well-understood and trivial to set up, and sharing money should be too. Plus, they’re more fun.
USE IT WITH ROOMMATES, ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS, FAMILIES, EX’S AND MORE.
How are people using Braid? Roommates and couples are creating groups called “House” or “Us” for groceries and supplies (especially with living situations shifting due to COVID). We’ve also seen ex’s use Braid groups for shared child-related or pet-related expenses.
We want to make it easy to sign up, create a group, and add money from any bank. Then, group members can spend directly out of the group account, together, and there’s no tracking or collecting money later.
Family support is another big use-case. Especially with unemployment as high as it is, we’re seeing people creating groups with their elderly parents, or their recently graduated children.
ONE DEBIT CARD.
One challenge we encountered early on was how to enable users to spend directly out of their groups with a debit card. If someone had five groups, for example, we didn’t want to issue five cards. No one wants to carry around that many cards. Instead, the Braid Card pairs with any of your groups, right in the app. Tap next to the group you want to spend from, and swipe. You can do this right at the time of purchase.
A common question we get is “so if everyone has access to the money, won’t people steal it?” First, we encourage you to only share money with people you trust. But we’ve also added permissions to each group to make sure everyone feels comfortable. Want to add someone who can only deposit money, not withdraw? Want to make it so that only you, the Admin, can invite others? Want to create a $50 a day spending cap? All that is possible.
We’ve learned so much about permissions from other social software products in the last decade. Google Docs, Slack, WhatsApp, Dropbox, etc. have shown that clear permissions can greatly improve the user experience around shared documents/messages/files, and we think it’s important to do this with money, too.
ACCOUNT & ROUTING NUMBERS AND VIRTUAL CARDS.
Our hope is to make it as easy as possible to spend together. Every group has a unique account and routing number, which makes it easy to pay rent and utilities. You can also generate virtual cards for each of your groups for online shopping and recurring payments.
MOVING MONEY IS EASY.
Finally, we think it’s important to be able to move money easily, without switching banks. You add your primary checking account to Braid, and you can easily and quickly move money between your bank, your groups, and your friends.
Braid is free to use. There are no monthly charges, card-related fees, overdraft fees, or bank transfer fees. The consumer pays nothing. We make money from interchange revenue from our debit card.
SAFE AND SECURE.
We are using best-in-class security and safety measures to ensure that your money and data are safe. We use Plaid to collect your bank credentials, and we never see them nor have access to them. The personal information you provide when you sign up is encrypted and transmitted securely.
The last and most important thing about Braid is transparency. When you send someone money, you don’t really know where and how the money is getting spent. Instead, with groups, every transaction is paid out of the shared group, and all the transactions can be seen by everyone. We’re curious to see if this enables new discussions around money and shared spending.
We’re really interested in feedback and hope you’ll check out the app and let us know what you think. Keep in touch:
Thanks for reading,
The Braid Team (San Francisco, CA)