Yesterday fintech startup Lydia has unveiled a brand new design for its financial super app. And it’s a self-confident approach to mobile payments, not just a fresh coat of paint. I met with the founders of the company to discuss Lydia’s vision and vision for the future.
In many ways, Lydia does not stand still and continues to reinvent herself. The company originally started as a peer-to-peer payment application for the French market. For the first time, people could instantly send and receive money from their smartphones.
The app has changed a lot over the past few years. Recently the company reached unicorn status and the team has been working on adding more services and features.
In particular, you can now use your Lydia account as an alternative to a regular bank account. Users can order a debit card, send and receive money through a unique IBAN. Users can also trade cryptocurrencies, stocks, precious metals and ETFs.
With this new design, the company is streamlining its app with a clear separation between your activity, your accounts, your cards, and your trading activity. More importantly, the company is positioning its mobile app as a social product rather than a fintech product.
Building the foundation for the next 10 years
When I met Lydia’s co-founders Cyril Chichet and Antoine Portet, they were both reading my recent Zenly article, another popular social app developed in Paris. And they found some similarities between the new Lydia and the new Zenli.
“We just sent out a newsletter to our users that opens a new chapter for Lydia and lays out a plan for the next 10 years — just like Zenly,” co-founder and product director Antoine Porte told me.
It works but was never intended for humans Kirill Chiche
This is not a random milestone. Lydia launched the first version of her app nine years ago. “If you count the gestation period, it is 10 years,” Porte said.
The company managed to attract 5.5 million users. And some of them have now decided to use Lydia as their main account.
“The more we advance in the financial and banking industry, the more we try to intellectualize the reason people don’t like their bank,” co-founder and CEO Cyril Cheech told me.
“If you dig deeper, you will understand how banks use technology. They have built an excellent system for interbank activity. You can move money from one end of the world to the other. It works, but it was never intended for humans,” he added.
This describes Lydia’s design language very well. The team wants to create an app “meant for people”. For example, someone who has never used a banking app before does not need to learn about SEPA and IBAN transfers before sending money to a family member.
When you open the updated version of Lydia, the main tab has been drastically cleaned up. Now it’s an activity feed with your latest transactions. At the top of the screen there are two buttons – get and pay.
There is a new tab bar at the bottom of the screen with clearly labeled buttons. You no longer have to guess which button does what.
The second tab shows your accounts – your main Lydia account, your sub accounts, and your bank accounts that you have combined in the app. Personal accounts and general accounts are now separated into two sections.
The third tab allows you to access and manage your cards from there. Trading now has its own tab, separate from the rest of the app. If you rarely open Lydia, it’s now much easier to figure out where to click to access what you want to access.
What is money?
Like overthinking French entrepreneurs, the founders of Lydia constantly revisit the definition of the terms they use. “We have forgotten the very reason for the existence of money, because we view money as an accounting tool,” Porte said.
“Money has meaning. It’s either a project or a memory,” Chiche added later in the conversation.
And yet, when people open their banking app, it’s like opening an Excel spreadsheet. Even worse, it often causes a lot of negative thoughts.
“Your account was credited only once, and everything else is negative transactions. When you look at your account statement, you feel like you screwed up,” Chiche said.
Money is what you do with it Antoine Port
According to the founders, banking is associated with too much guilt. This is why you no longer see your account balance when you open Lydia. You must click on the second tab to view it. That’s why you don’t see the “€” sign next to every transaction. The company does not want to stress the accounting aspect of your transactions.
“The worst thing is neobanks that show you a graph of your balance sheet over time,” Chiche said.
“We need a new definition of money. Money is no longer coins, bills, or physical things. It could be an opportunity to get back to basics – money is what you do with it,” Porte said.
Fintech app or social app
Every transaction in Lydia could be viewed as an event. You can open the transaction card, change the name, and add emoji to make it mean something to you. For example, you can put your child’s name on the day care bill.
Today the company is taking another step forward. Users can add a photo to every transaction. It seems a little strange at first, but Lydia truly believes she has a chance to create the best social journaling app.
You might think that journaling is a thing of the past. But a generation of smartphone users keep a diary every day without even knowing it.
The magazine itself has evolved. Instead of buying a trendy notepad and spending 15 minutes every day writing about the day, people take pictures with their phones. The film has become a kind of ubiquitous, lightweight magazine.
Lydia is so simple and fast that it has always been considered a utility application. But it has always been a social app Antoine Port
Lydia plans to take advantage of this by completing the camera frame. First, your past financial transactions represent structure. Secondly, adding a photo makes the transaction more personal. “If you don’t know which photo to use, that probably means it was an unnecessary expense,” Porte said.
Third, it turns every transaction into a potential social post. You can scroll through your transactions the same way you scroll through photos in a photo album. If it’s a shared account, other users will see the photo. It also creates a virality factor as people may start asking why you are taking the photo. You can imagine a feature that allows you to share transactions on other apps as well.
More importantly, it opens up many possibilities. The operation on the card also takes place in a certain place and at a certain time. Lydia can populate the transaction screen with additional details about the place you visited. As soon as Foursquare invented check-ins, people started talking about check-in fatigue. Perhaps the most powerful check-ins are your card payments.
This brings us to the main question. Is Lydia a fintech app or a social app?
“Lydia is so simple and fast that it has always been considered a utility application. But it has always been a social app,” Porte told me.
I don’t think it’s that simple. Some users will still use Lydia multiple times a month to send and receive money. But a small, actively involved part of users can see Lydia’s social potential.
We don’t need to come up with a definitive answer right now as the redesign is a clear improvement over the previous version of the app. “People tell us our competitors are Revolut, but they are bankers,” Porte said.
“Instead, we want to create WhatsApp out of money,” he added.
Credit: techcrunch.com /