Improved: Manual Verification and OAuth for Plaid

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Like many modern financial products, Planning Center Giving uses Plaid to quickly verify bank accounts for ACH donations (US only). Though Plaid has been a part of Giving for a few years, in November of 2020, we switched over to Plaid entirely for our bank verification.

Overall, we've had great results since this switch, but we're excited to share two recent updates that have made our bank verification flow even simpler and more secure:

A More Obvious Manual Option

There are two ways to verify a bank account on Plaid:

  • Instant: This method uses a donor's online banking credentials to log into the donor's bank and verify the account. This allows donors to verify their bank account right away, and to give with their bank account immediately.
  • Manual: This method uses account and routing numbers to make two small deposits, which the donor must verify within a day or two. This requires donors to wait a few days to give using their bank account, but is also more widely available.

With your customer feedback, we learned that many donors prefer to verify their bank account using manual verification, allowing them to avoid sharing bank login information with a third-party platform like Plaid. In early 2021 we passed this feedback to Plaid and they worked to give us an option that puts manual verification more prominently in the bank verification flow.

Previously, Plaid offered the manual verification route as a backup option when instant verification wasn't possible. Now, you'll see that the manual option is much more apparent on the very first step. This is true for Church Center on the web and the mobile app:


Better Bank Connections With OAuth

OAuth is a widely-used process by which two systems can securely connect to each other. For example, if you've ever connected a mobile app or a plugin to your Google, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, or Spotify account, you've likely used OAuth.

With this system, you don't have to pass your account username or password through Plaid. Instead, you're taken directly to your bank's website where you log in and grant access to Plaid to access the required account verification information. 

The first OAuth integration from Plaid is for Capital One and it looks like this:


Most Plaid bank integrations do not use OAuth as most banks don't support it. However, some banks do support OAuth connections and Plaid has confirmed that they are starting to roll out support for these banks.

Capital One is the first, but more are on the way. We think it's a great step forward for Plaid, the banks,  our customers, and your donors.

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