@hitoshi, from what I’ve seen so far Alpaca has a great beginning, but it has ways to go for wider adoption by app makers as well as consumers. Here’s my feedback on the bank-account linking experience.
You must allow linking more than one bank account
I had to remove my first account to be able to link second, before I could start transfer I intended.
Removing a bank account takes too long
After I initiated removal of my first bank account, it was some king of “in progress” state for a while. I lost my patience and checked back again after a few hours and was then finally able to add a new account.
The Plaid service is not perfect
3.1 At least add another way to link accounts
Alpaca uses Plaid (acquired by Visa) for linking bank account. It requests my bank login and password. Having to share my bank credentials with a third-party is in direct violation of directives issued by all banks: “do not share your password/pin with anyone”. If I were to lose money because of leakage of my password, I don’t the bank would not take responsibility because I did not follow their recommendation, and I would have no recourse.
While the transfer is in progress I have changed my second bank’s password, and after the transfer finishes I will change it back again. This is a lot of work to keep myself safe while also trying to use Alpaca.
For those of us who are not comfortable sharing bank passwords with anyone, please add the regular method of 2-transaction/ACH authentication/micro-deposit-linking.
3.2. The Plaid service times out many times
When trying to add my second account, I chose the code to be sent to my email (presumably my bank was going to send it). But I received the code at least 10 minutes after that prompt by Plaid. And when I pasted the code in Plaid’s dialog it simply took me through the cycle again, presumably because it had been waiting for too long. My bank’s email told me the code was valid for 20 minutes, though. After failing the email way twice with same symptoms, third time I chose to receive my code via text message. That text message never arrived (as of this writing). Many hours later, towards the evening, I went through the email route again, and this time I received the email from my bank in less than a minute.
I can only assume Plaid was facing high traffic during the day, hence it kept timing out, and towards the evening the process succeeded because of low traffic.
Allow customers to use their money sooner
Robinhood allows its customers to use up to $1000 of their transfer instantly. I know that’s a risky proposition for any business, and may not be right for Alpaca. But please figure out a way to let the customers use their money sooner/faster. This wait period of multiple days increases friction and discourages customers. If I were to develop an App atop Alpaca, I would have my customers waiting many days before they can use their money; clearly not the ideal customer experience.
Please allow customers to set up recurring transfers to/from their bank accounts. This would allow customers to automatically invest some part of their income in stocks, and reduce friction.
Bank Transfer API
I can understand if adding/removing bank accounts may not be exposed as an API. But for apps to develop and gain traction on the Alpaca platform, please expose an API to perform transfers. This will allow the apps to have their consumers transfer money from the app interface, accounting for a much smoother user experience.
I hope to see these improvements made in Alpaca some time soon.