If millennials aren’t saving money, Qapital wants to change that. The Sweden-based technology company has an app that makes it super easy to begin saving more. After connecting to a US bank account, Qapital enables its users to set financial goals and begin working towards meeting those goals by automating the savings process. For example, as more millennials begin their careers by taking on multiple gigs, Qapital helps these freelancers automatically set aside a percentage of their income for taxes (something freelancers find hard to do with lumpy income).
From a behavioral economics point of view, getting users to set aside money can be used as a punishment or reward for certain activities. If automation of the savings process helps overcome individual reluctance to save, Qapital sought a way to embed itself more deeply in its users’ daily lives and in the apps that they use. But integrating Qapital’s saving mechanism into individual apps like Facebook or Fitbit is an endless, thankless process. Instead, Qapital turned to IFTTT to roll out its savings capabilities into hundreds of apps.
At its core, IFTTT enables individual users to get their various apps talking to one another (some have referred to the technology as digital duct tape). To begin using this API marketplace, users sign up for IFTTT and link up their various applications. From there, individuals create what IFTTT calls recipes. Recipes all follow a particular format: if X, then Y (IFTTT actually stands for if this, then that). Here’s a basic use case: every time you take a picture with Instagram, you’d like to save that same image to your Dropbox account. IFTTT can do automate that, even if the two apps in question don’t have a direct integration.
Qapital was designed to make saving money easy and encourages users by offering various ways to save — its integration with IFTTT gives it thousands of permutations how to do that. One of the most popular recipes on IFTTT’s Qapital channel involves a trigger when it snows. The idea is that when the weather turns white, we may want to finally begin saving for a new pair of skis or a tropical vacation that’s been in the works. If a user has this recipe enabled, money will automatically get swept into a savings bucket when the white stuff starts falling from the sky in the user’s city.
Another popular recipe for Qapital on IFTTT involves the popular UP fitness tracker made by Jawbone. Users motivated to get in shape can reward themselves when they break a sweat. This recipe swipes $3 to savings toward a spa day, a session with a personal trainer, or new shoes if a user hits his or her daily walking/running goals. Given that IFTTT has more than 200 popular apps available on its platform, Qapital users can create recipes for saving more money connected to how much they exercise, attendance at certain events (IFTTT can use your GPS location as a trigger, so better get to the gym), and how much they read.
Just a couple of years ago, to get this level of interconnectivity, app developers would have to code for each individual integration into 3rd party apps. That means specific integrations would have to be coded within a greater development cycle, often resulting in re-prioritizations, pushouts, and delays. With IFTTT, app developers like Qapital have to make a single integration to the IFTTT platform and IFTTT provides the connective tissue to all the other apps on its marketplace. App developers can also seed the recipe database by creating their own recipes alongside those recipes created by other IFTTT users.
In the consumer space, IFTTT is the largest and most recognized API integrator. Zapier, another platform that interconnects apps, has emerged as a leader for apps targeting business users (think connecting a lead generation form directly to a CRM). Plaid is working in the financial space to create its own APIs for bank data to give tools to developers to connect with existing bank infrastructure (think a turnkey solution to access and authorize new customer bank accounts). In fact, Qapital has partnered with Plaid for its own data access pipelines to US banks.
“Introducing a new banking product is a huge hurdle in terms of trust and putting yourself out there, but millennials are just way more open to new services, and they’re not really expecting banks to pull this off for them,” Qapital founder, George Friedman told FastCompany. “Millennials trust different things. They trust design and they trust the message, which are very different factors than the older generation.”