Yesterday, the start of fintech Lydia has unveiled a new design for its super financial app. And it’s an idea for making mobile money – not just a new coat of paint. I sat down with the founders of the company to discuss Lydia’s future ideas and perspectives.
In many ways, Lydia does not stand still and continues to renew herself. The company initially started as a single payment program for the French market. For the first time, people can quickly send and receive money from their smartphones.
The app has developed tremendously over the last few years. The company has recently reached the level of unicorn and the team has been repeating additional services and features.
In particular, you can now use your Lydia account as an alternative to your regular bank account. Users can apply for a credit card, send and receive money through a special IBAN. Users can also trade in cryptocurrencies, stocks, precious metals and ETFs.
With this new design, the company simplifies its creation by clearly distinguishing between your business, your accounts, your cards and your business activity. More importantly, the company is setting up its mobile app as a social product – not a fintech product.
Building the foundation for the next 10 years
When I met Lydia founders Cyril Chiche and Antoine Porte, they both read my recent article on Zenly, another popular social program for Paris. And they found a bit of a similarity between the new Lydia and the new Zenly.
“We just sent a user base newsletter which introduces a new unit for Lydia, which sets out plans for the next 10 years – like Zenly,” co-founder and chief product officer Antoine Porte told me.
It works but has never been designed for humans Cyril Chiche
This is not an important achievement. Lydia released her debut program nine years ago. “If you count pregnancy, it was 10 years,” Porte said.
The company has managed to attract 5.5 million users. A small part of them have now decided to use Lydia for their basic account.
“The more we develop financial services and banks, the more we try to understand why people hate their bank,” founder and CEO Cyril Chiche told me.
“As you dig deeper, you will find out how banks are using technology. They have built a beautiful system for transactions within banks. You can move money from one end of the world to the other. It works but it is never planned for people,” he added.
This perfectly sums up Lydia’s design language. The team wants to build an app “designed for humans”. For example, someone who has never used a banking app should learn about SEPA and IBAN transfers before sending money to a family member.
When you open the updated version of Lydia, the main tab is heavily cleaned. It is now an active feeding with the latest acquisitions. There are two buttons at the top of the screen – pick and drop.
At the bottom of the screen, there is a new tab with clearly marked buttons. You do not need to guess what the button is doing.
The second step shows your accounts – your main Lydia account, your sub-accounts and the bank accounts you have collected in the app. Private accounts and shared accounts are now divided into two parts.
The third step allows you to log in and manage your cards from there. The business now has its own tab, separate from the rest of the app. If you rarely open Lydia, now it is very easy to understand where to touch to enter what you want to enter.
What is money?
For French entrepreneurs who think too much of everything, the founders of Lydia go back to the definition of the words they use. “We have forgotten why money exists because we see money as a calculator,” Porte said.
Money makes sense. It is a project or a memory, ”Chiche added later in the discussion.
Again, when people open their banking app, it feels like it is opening an Excel spreadsheet. Worse, it often develops a lot of negative thoughts.
“Your account has only been downloaded once, and everything is a negative operation. When you look at your account statement, you feel disturbed,” Chiche said.
Money is what you do Antoine Porte
According to the founders, there is a lot of crime involved in banking. That is why you do not see the balance in your account when you open Lydia. You have to tap on the second tab to see it. That is also why you do not see the ‘€’ symbol next to any transaction. The company does not want to focus on the accounting side of your transaction.
“The worst thing is the neobanks that show up on your balance chart over time,” Chiche said.
“We need a new definition of money. Money is no longer coins, bills or physical objects. That could be your chance to get back to basics – money is what you do with it,” Porte said.
Any transaction in Lydia can be considered an event. You can open a transfer card, change the name and add emojis to make it more meaningful to you. For example, you may want to put your child’s name on a kindergarten bill.
Today, the company is going one step further. Users can add a photo to any business. That may seem strange at first, but Lydia really believes she has the vaccine to build the best version of a social journal.
You may think that journalism is a thing of the past. But a generation of smartphone users are writing magazines every day without even knowing it.
The magazine itself has developed. Instead of buying a beautiful notebook and spending 15 minutes every day on the current day, people take pictures on their phone. Camera recording has become a kind of ubiquitous, effortless magazine.
Lydia is very simple and fast and has always been considered a utility app. But it has always been a social app Antoine Porte
Lydia plans to take advantage of this by increasing camera footage. First, your previous financial transactions represent a structure. Secondly, adding an image makes it a very unique business transaction. “If you don’t know which image to use, it probably means it was an unnecessary expense,” Porte said.
Third, it transforms any transaction into a possible social space. You can navigate through your transfer just like you would through a photo album. If it is a shared expense, other users will see the image. It also creates a viral issue and people may start asking why you are taking a picture. You can imagine a feature that allows you to share transactions with another app as well.
More importantly, it opens up many opportunities. Card exchanges also take place at a specific location and at a specific time. Lydia can load the transaction screen with more information about the site you are visiting. As soon as Foursquare invented the checks, people started talking about checking fatigue. Perhaps the most powerful checks are your card payments.
It brings us to the big question. Is Lydia a fintech app or a social app?
“Lydia is very simple and fast and is always considered a utility app. But it has always been a social program,” Porte told me.
I don’t think it’s that easy. Some users will still use Lydia several times a month to send and receive money. But a small, very active user base may see the social power of Lydia.
You do not need to come up with a definitive answer right now as redesign is a clear improvement over the previous model. “People tell us that our competitors are Revolut, but they are banks,” Porte said.
“We want to create WhatsApp for money,” he added.