Merchant Innovation

This Startup Wants To ‘Trim’ Monthly Subscriptions

A new Web service is taking aim at the difficulty of keeping track of multiple monthly subscriptions.

Trim is a San Francisco startup founded by former venture capitalists Thomas Smyth and Dan Petkevich that seeks and destroys unwanted subscriptions a user may have lost track of in order to save the person money.

The free Web service, which launched last month, uses a person’s credit card and phone info to track down all of his or her current and active subscriptions by conducting a 90-day search on all accounts and looking for recurring payments which may fit the “subscription” bill. Trim then sends a text message with each recurring charge, letting the user cancel any subscription with a reply, instead of having to go through the arduous unsubscribe process him or herself.

According to The Verge, which spoke with the company’s founders, the company works with 98 percent of U.S. banking institutions, including both large and regional banks.

Talking more about the details of the process, Founder Thomas Smyth adds, “For most billers, we’re able to unsubscribe directly with just an email. Some billers will still make you call them, so we developed a system to automate that as best as you can.” Some more “heinous” bills, like gym memberships, require cancellation in person or by mail. In that case, Smyth says, Trim will actually send a certified mail letter to deal with those more outlandish cases.

The Verge reporter, Nick Statt, tested out the service for himself with positive results. When asked why the company had decided to launch with a Web service and not a mobile app, Smyth said, “There aren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles we’d be tempted to add with an app.” And that he, along with his cofounder, believes in over-complicating. Trim would turn off users who are looking for a quick snapshot of their subscription bills. He adds that they are both “really excited about the text interface” as an introduction to users who can try it without having to download something.

The potential downfall to a Web service versus app is that the platform loses the opportunity to ping users on a regular basis through an app notification. Trim is designed at the moment to be used only when a user feels like it, so he or she has to input credit card account info whenever a new update is sought. This also limits the potential revenue models for the company.

But Cofounder Petkevich is confident that with the right functionality, users just may swap out all of those unwanted subscription fees for one premium Trim subscription that could keep their inadvertent over-spending at bay.

“The way that people have been thinking about personal finance in the past is budgeting tools. You go to Mint, and you arrange your budget, and it tells you how much you spent,” Petkevich told The Verge. “We come at it from a different angle: How can we help you optimize your financial life with concrete actions?”


Featured PYMNTS Study:

More than 63 percent of merchant service providers (MSPs) want to overhaul their core payment processing systems so they can up their value-added services (VAS) game. It’s tough, though, since many of these systems date back to the pre-digital era. In the January 2020 Optimizing Merchant Services Playbook, PYMNTS unpacks what 200 MSPs say is key to delivering the VAS agenda that is critical to their success.