Tag Archives: service

Digit, with $1 billion saved, turns its attention to consumer debt

In the three years since its launch, micro-savings app Digit has helped its customers set aside over $1 billion for emergency funds, travel, and more, the company said today. The average Digit customer earns around $50,000 per year and is saving around $2,500 per year.

Founder and CEO Ethan Bloch attributes the company’s success to its reframing of savings as a tool for specific life events, rather than an abstract financial instrument. “I don’t need a ‘savings account,'” he says. “I need a thousand dollars when my car breaks down or someone in my family gets sick or I’m going on this trip.”

Like Acorns, its primary competitor, Digit orchestrates the creation of customer savings by operating in the background. The company plugs into customers’ checking accounts and analyzes their spending behavior; over time, it automatically transfers small-dollar amounts to a Digit-managed account on their behalf. (Customers are allowed to establish goals and access their Digit funds whenever they choose.) Last July, Digit started charging customers $2.99 per month for the service.

So far, that fee has not had an impact on Digit’s growth. But new entrants, like SoFi Money, are mimicking aspects of Digit’s offering and bundling automated saving into broader financial offerings. To survive as an independent company, Digit may have to follow suit.

Digit is already exploring products that would help customers manage their debt, Bloch says. Using what it knows about customers’ personal balance sheets, Digit hopes to help customers prioritize their debt payments, and make extra payments when possible. “Where we’ll start is just helping folks make progress against the debt that seems insurmountable,” Bloch says. Down the road, he may also explore refinancing products.

Digit, based in San Francisco, has raised $36.3 million in venture funding.

Innovation By Design Awards Official Rules

Last updated Feb. 12, 2018.

ELIGIBILITY: The Fast Company 2018 Innovation By Design Awards Competition (the “Competition”) is open to all organizations and individuals involved in designing a product or service that was made public or came to market between May 1, 2016, and May 1, 2018. Entries do not, however, need to have been designed during that time period.

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design employment • Re: What to do when you’re asked to do cheap design

yo wrote:
I did a segment on what industrial designers do and don’t do and what characteristics make up a good designer, and ended with some common misconceptions .

The goal was to get every employee not only knowledgeable, but excited about design, so that everyone from the sales guys to the customer service people on the phones could speak about it.

This is great feedback. I like the educational perspective, it would help with getting more valuable projects, both for myself and the company, if the team knew design well enough to upsell our true capabilities. Was ingraining a good design culture with methods like this an ongoing activity to keep everyone stimulated?

design employment • Re: What to do when you’re asked to do cheap design

One of the things I did when I started at Sound United was I put together a straight up art history lecture on the history of industrial design. I presented it at a free company wide “lunch and learn”. In the presentation I covered pre WW2 beginnings of ID so people understood this has been going on for a long time, I did a section on Eliot Noyes, head of design at IBM post WW2, Raymond Loewy and the MAYA concept, then Dieter Rams and all the parallels to Apple, ending with Peter Schryer and his 20 year plan for Audi that started in the 80s and how he did that in 5 years for Kia. The. I did a segment on what industrial designers do and don’t do and what characteristics make up a good designer, and ended with some common misconceptions .

The goal was to get every employee not only knowledgeable, but excited about design, so that everyone from the sales guys to the customer service people on the phones could speak about it.

Google Already Knows Your Flight Is Delayed

The search giant will tell you before your own airline does–a new feature that’s just a taste of things to come.

Google Flights, launched in 2011, is another quiet behemoth service for Google. It has grown to twice the size of Expedia and it’s doing more revenue than Priceline Group and TripAdvisor combined. It’s simply very hard to compete with Google when it comes to data crunching, and the latest Google Flights feature proves it.

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A Kitschy L.A. Icon Reinvents Itself (Cue The Millennial Pink)

Pink Dot, the grocery chain that delivers booze and cigarettes (and had a cameo on Entourage), rolls out slick new branding. Will it help the cult chain survive against the likes of GrubHub and UberEats?

A lot has changed since the grocery-chain Pink Dot opened in Los Angeles in 1987. The pioneering delivery service, once known for its polka-dotted fleet of Volkswagen Beetles, was the first and only grocery to deliver booze and cigarettes, in addition to, um, food, right to your door–making it a popular (and let’s be honest, sorta seedy) go-to for Angelenos in need of a late-night fix.

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DuckDuckGo Moves Privacy Beyond Search With New App And Extension

Over the last few years, search engine DuckDuckGo has built a loyal audience among privacy-conscious internet users.

The Philadelphia-area company promises that it won’t sell, or even store, its users’ search histories or other private information. While the service is supported by ads, they’re linked only to the keywords in individual searches, not to prior searches on the site or behavior elsewhere on the web.

But once users go from the search page to other online content, they’re still exposed to whatever monitoring mechanisms those other sites may include, including code from the ubiquitous tracking networks that cause targeted ads to creepily follow users across the internet.

“When you click beyond on the search results to other sites, you’re subject to privacy policies there,” says DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg.

That’s why, to extend privacy protections beyond its own site, DuckDuckGo is rolling out a browser extension—available for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari as of Tuesday—and smartphone apps designed to filter out tracking code, automatically direct users to encrypted HTTPS versions of sites, and provide privacy ratings for websites. Naturally, users will also be able to search DuckDuckGo from within the extension.

[Image: courtesy of Duck Duck Go]

The tool will automatically block code from major tracking networks, and show, over time, what percentage of sites visited had code from particular networks. It will also display a privacy letter grade, from A to F, for every site visited based on features like the presence of tracking code, whether the site offers an encrypted HTTPS connection, and the terms of its privacy policy.

DuckDuckGo is working with the Terms of Service Didn’t Read project, which analyzes privacy policies and other terms of service, to incorporate its data. The company says it plans to find ways to help TOSDR rate more websites. “It’s been a very tedious process because the documents are very long—they’re very complicated,” Weinberg says.

But since TOSDR is independently run, it may help limit criticism if DuckDuckGo, which currently has an “A” grade, continually outscores its less privacy-centric rivals.

Simply blocking tracking operations should make internet connections speedier as well as more private, since tracking code and data can account for a substantial portion of the bandwidth consumed by many popular sites, Weinberg says. The extension won’t filter or block all ad code, though it can be used in conjunction with an adblocker if users wish.


“Adblockers are mostly blocking ads, and don’t always block all the hidden trackers going on,” he says. “Our extension is blocking all the hidden trackers but is not blocking all the ads.”

Ideally, in Weinberg’s view, the tool and its prominent letter grades could put pressure on other web businesses to find models that don’t rely on aggressive user tracking. (Weinberg says basic keyword advertising has been enough to keep DuckDuckGo search profitable since 2014).

Future versions of the app and extension might include additional privacy features as the need arises. “There definitely is a bit of an arms race component to privacy protection and tracker blocking,” says Weinberg, pointing at recently arisen online issues like cryptocurrency-mining malware.

[Photo: courtesy of Duck Duck Go]

The company’s goal is essentially to provide a one-app privacy solution, including a bundle of features that don’t require a lot of user configuration to be able to use the internet normally. For that reason, the extension and apps don’t currently include a VPN or a connection to the Tor private routing network, tools that some power users employ to further boost their anonymity online. Those often need to be turned off to access particular sites and services, so they’re not a good fit for the current extension, though Weinberg says DuckDuckGo plans to do more R&D in the future that could bring such features into the fold.

“What we’re trying to do is pack all the essentials that you need into one package,” he says.

How Widely Do Companies Share User Data? Here’s A Chilling Glimpse

A new visualization by researcher Rebecca Ricks uses PayPal EU data to demonstrate the inscrutable ways companies share user data.

When you sign up for a digital service that asks you to sign a long terms-of-service agreement, chances are that company is going to be sharing your data with third parties. But what data is being shared with whom, and why, is often shrouded in secrecy–or at least confusing design, legalese, and hard-to-find disclosures.

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Instagram’s Latest “Feature” Proves It’s Not Listening

We want more control over our data and user experience, not less.

In a new update to Instagram, the service is borrowing a feature from Facebook Messenger. It now lists the “Activity Status” of every user in the direct chat area of the app, allowing your followers to see when you were last active on the service.

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