One year in the making

Avatar of Nishant Verma

Nishant Verma

Co-Founder, Head of Design

It’s less than a year ago I found myself sitting in a conference room inside the office of a major payments gateway platform. We were there to discuss a possible UPI partnership for Fold. Turns out, it’s a looong process, but definitely something we can look forward to.

During the discussion, I remember distinctly the person on the other side asking what the product that we’re building actually does. Now, there’s a way you can explain something to someone in gross detail, and they’ll understand, but forget. Then there’s another way, a way of making ideas stick, which doesn’t involve going into any detail but rather using as few words as possible. That’s the recipe for sticky slogans, good copy and jingles that never leave your head. Short, precise & with a great use of metaphor. And like anything else, good copy works when it works, and when it doesn’t, it crashes. Leaves your mouth agape, with half a smile staring from eyeballs to eyeballs looking for a shimmer of something clever you said, landing.

I don’t remember the exact expression on the faces from that day, but when asked what the product actually does, I said “It cures blindness”.

When on a vacation, I have found that it’s a good practice to delete Slack, where all our work related conversations happen. Late February this year when I was in the cold winters of Mussorrie, vacationing, I had many things to distract myself but not the rat tat tat of Slack notifications. On the topic of how long a break you should take from working, I usually side on the opinion that “Until you start to feel guilty”. On the 4th day of the vacation, there was a tinge of guilt, a version of FOMO, of missing out on what my team was doing, so I re-installed Slack.

I missed Slack.

Well, technically I missed work. But Slack is the platform on which it happens, so in conclusion, I missed a product, an app.

What will I miss if I deleted Fold from my phone? Will I even miss it?

These aren’t small questions, they made my heart drop for a second, What if I didn’t care? Something we had worked on for almost a year at that point, would essentially amount to nothing. Because when building for the public, the greatest tragedy is investing your time in building something that no one will miss if it disappears.

I went ahead and deleted Fold. Spent 2 or 3 days spending money, buying stuff, kayaking, and then I realised, once you’re used to it, how uncomfortable losing the tether to your financial information can be. You could say I was blind to my own finances without Fold. That’s when I realised, we really are on to something.

It took a year, many iterations of many different features to arrive at that feeling. Some of the features Fold boasts are expected in any app that does what Fold does, but for others we have gone ahead and beyond. I am a firm believer that it’s these features which make Fold something you’ll miss, if for any reason you part ways with it after using.

One of them is Search Transactions.

Our major inspiration for Search Transactions feature in Fold is Google Photos’ search. Though eerie, it’s nevertheless remarkable, to have something dig back and fetch your memories at your command. Any day, any year, any friend or pets, even mountains and landscapes are all available. And just because we know the words "Algorithm" and “AI" doesn’t diminish the fact that it's literally magic, a slab of glass pulling out images your eyes saw months, weeks, years ago.

When I type “March 2022” in Google Photos, which is about a year ago from when this blog post is published–and by the virtue that I take a lot of pictures to document my life–brings up the photos when Fold was nothing more than a figment of imagination. I was reading up on what makes a good graph and had an almost empty Figma file.

Like Google Photos magically pulls up your photos when given a search term, Fold is also capable of pulling your transactions and summarising them.

A person holding the iphone with Fold app open. In the app - "swiggy" is in transaction search field and in results there is a summary which shows transactions in  this week, this month, this year, and all time with amounts.

Ever since the beginning we have given Graphs special attention. Having used many other apps, it felt as though graphs don’t receive the love they deserve, often treated like second class citizens. We didn’t want that, we are very happy with how our graphs have turned out, they are fun to use, feel tactile and are imbued with actionable information. I am so excited for you to hold your phone and scrub through the graphs, because it’s literally impossible to show the feeling through a video, but let’s try.

Fold app Cashflow Widget demo

One of the most requested, and in general considered the most useful feature in our team is the Spending Summary Widget. Which you'll see on your Fold’s home screen once you update the app. This feature adds value and meaning to tagging transactions, which was an empty action up until now.

Fold app Spending Summary Widget demo

For the transactions which turn up without merchants, you can now add merchants manually. All the registered merchants on Google places are now searchable on Fold, and not just that. Given the Indian context and the prevalence of UPI you might, for example, pay someone named Pramod for an auto ride, but just adding Pramod doesn’t enrich the transaction with enough context. You might never meet Pramod again, which can be sad, but that’s life. For these scenarios we have a list of Generic Merchants, so instead of adding Pramod, or any other name you can add “Autorickshaw” or “Coffee Shop” or “Gift Shop” so that none of your transactions is missing any of the important parts (Amount, Time, Payor/Payee and Tag). You can also create custom Payors and Payees.

Fold app add merchant feature demo

We envision this feature being very useful for recall. When you download a bank statement through Fold for review, no transaction will make your brain gears set into motion to recall exactly where the money was spent, it’ll all be there.

All of this is made possible by RBI’s Account Aggregator. It’s the first time ever in our country when citizens can have one of the most important number, that so much of our lives revolve around, under our fingertips and in our heads, always. It’s the first time we are able to see, analyse, make course corrections without jumping through hoops and downloading 200 PDFs. It’s truly a remarkable time in the history of our country, technologically speaking.

Last week we invited more people to try Fold than we’ve done since our first announcement in January. We are aware that, there are still many people who are on the waiting list. But from here on, it’s only going to decrease. We have a Discord server open to everyone, where we and other people already inside the app share invites, feedback and feature requests. And if you aren’t aware, there’s a reason – which isn’t creating hype – because of which we have to constrain invites.

If you’ve read this far, it means that you’re really interested in what we’re doing. So let me tell you, Credit Cards are coming! Tracking real time credit card spends we believe will be a game changer. As we’ve started working on it, we have discovered that building this feature isn’t all that straightforward, if you have thoughts or ideas on that, do reach out to us, we’re listening.

It’d be a disservice to end this post without acknowledging the support and the barrage of compliments and kind words that’ve been sent our way in the last 3 months. It makes us very happy and we hope to live up to that. It is said that the hardest part of success is finding people who’ll be happy for you, with our community and support we believe we have that part figured out.

I’ll conclude this post by answering a frequent and rightfully asked question, which is how Fold, as a business is going to make money. Fold is not going to be free forever, because if a product isn’t taking money from you for the service it provides, it’s taking something else. And on most occasions you don’t know what that “else” is. Our method is as simple as it gets, we’ll take your money and give you a great product, something that’ll provide 100 folds more value than what you pay. We’ll be able to share more on this as we get out of beta, polish and make Fold pay-worthy.