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BankSimple: We have cards (banksimple.com)
346 points by timf on May 20, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments

This is very intelligently done. I'm glad they are releasing the cards to just a small set of people first to check that everything works. People are very wary of any issues with their money/with their bank and absolutely any problem at the beginning would seriously hurt user adoption. Start slow and make sure it works.

How is this "intelligent" and not obvious, common sense before you roll out a bank?

But I thought BankSimple wasn't a bank, despite the confusing name.

"BankSimple: Personal banking from a company that respects you."

That's not a bank?

From the FAQ:

So, what’s the deal... are you really a bank?

We are not a bank. We work with partner banks (soon to be announced) to provide FDIC insured products. What this means for you is that your money is safely insured with our partners. Our wholesale partners provide the financial products, we provide the customer service and experience.

They're "simple" but they like to play semantics. I mean, really, they have "bank" in the name and they provide banking services. To me, the consumer, they are a bank.

I'd say the problem is how different parties conceive of the word "bank". When you're a consumer, the word "bank" means the entity that you interact with to do your banking. At the same time, the legal definition of "bank" is something entirely different, requiring compliance with many more laws than what BankSimple is doing. So, as far as I can see from the point of view of a customer of BankSimple, they will be "my bank" because you interact with them and not with the banks that are actually responsible for the safekeeping of your money while it's in your account.

Common sense is surprisingly uncommon. You've heard about Friendster falling apart because of scaling issues? Or Kozmo.com expanding to too many cities in too little time... Many companies forget to start small and test

Scaling is not trivial in many cases. Friendster happened before a lot of infrastructure we take for granted now was released into the world.

There's a big difference between that and congratulating people for something bleedingly obvious. Do you really expect them to start manufacturing these cards and rolling out their entire system which deals with people's money without testing the [bleep] out of it?

As I understand it, banks make a large amount of revenues from fees and such. How will BankSimple succeed if it doesn't use that? How will overdrafts work? Will the check just not go through?

I love that they are trying to revolutionize the banking industry, and I wish them well. But I'm afraid that they'll succumb to adverse selection to the greatest degree. The reality is that most of a bank's customers are not profitable (without the fees), which is why they institute these ridiculous fees to either drive them off or make them profitable. If BankSimple can make these previously-unprofitable people profitable again without surprise fees, they'll be a great success.

Let's hope that happens.

"Odd as it might sound, we tell startups that they should try to make as little money as possible. If you can figure out a way to turn a billion dollar industry into a fifty million dollar industry, so much the better, if all fifty million go to you. Though indeed, making things cheaper often turns out to generate more money in the end, just as automating things often turns out to generate more jobs." - Paul Graham


As I've posted below, it's going to be a bit tough for them.

However, while traditional banks make a lot of revenue from fees and such, traditional banks also have a lot of costs. Traditional banks have very large staffs that BankSimple won't have, traditional banks have lots of real-estate that BankSimple won't have, etc.

So, there is the potential that BankSimple is cutting out the fee revenue, but they're also cutting out a lot of the costs and that they'll offset (or it'll be enough that they can succeed, even if succeed with lower than average profit margins for the banking industry).

I'm also guessing that online banks get a higher percentage of their clients from the no-fee club. There are already e-banking divisions of many banks that offer higher rates, ATM reimbursements, etc. So, there's some wiggle room there.

It will be difficult, but they're going for it. Again, I'm skeptical. There are a number of e-banks that offer better terms than physical banks, but haven't quite gone all the way on no-fee. It isn't a sector where there aren't competitors already. So, BankSimple is going to have its work cut out for it.

The 1.5% they get from every single credit (and debit) card transaction as the issuing bank. I also understand that they'll have no branch locations. My local credit union has no fee checking and savings accounts, and in the years of using them they have only given me fees for the occasional coverdraft and absolutely nothing else. Just like how netflix is usurping cable companies $100 bills for a $10 + Internet bill, they'll do just fine.

It's actually closer to 1.1% of card transactions (our cards are debit cards). We also earn income as we pay out interest to our customers. We'll do fine.

Interchange revenue is going to drastically decrease this year anyways, thanks to the Durbin amendment. Depending on it as a core portion of non-interest revenue would be folly.

Interchange fees have been in the news a lot lately, but they're notoriously difficult to put an exact figure on because PIN-based debit incurs a flat per-transaction fee, while signature debit is generally percentage based, and varies with the merchant in question. (eg, Gas stations will pay less interchange than Best Buy or online merchants.)

When you see figures in news stories, there are a lot of assumptions going on behind the scenes; eg, they'll typically assume a $40 transaction, aggregate PIN and signature based debit, are based on broad-industry studies, &c.

There is also variation depending on what debit networks are being used. If you look at the back of your debit card (especially if it's from a smaller regional bank or CU), you'll see many more logos than just Mastercard or Visa.

Do debit cards typically incur the same fees as credit cards?

I thought many places here (Canada) accepted debit but not credit because it was a fixed fee per transaction not a %

In the US (and the UK I believe), debit card transactions are done through mastercard/visa and can incur similar fees. You can also type your debit card number on online purchases and it will work correctly, vs. interac where that doesn't work. Interac is very nice for retailers in canada since it's just one flat .25 fee for any transaction, just limited by your daily card limit.

I thought that fees and such were only incurred when you ran your debit card as a credit card transaction, with signing your name and such - I was under the impression that using your PIN number and using it as debit didn't incur those costs.

From memory, I am quite sure that here in Australia standard bank cards, which are generally referred to as debit cards, use an entirely different fee structure to credit cards. These bank cards always require a PIN and work on the EFTPOS network. Important, as you can't use them online. The rate is a flat one if I'm correct.

Debit cards issued by Visa or Mastercard and operating over those networks incur a lower fee than credit cards but follow the same interchange fee structure. Australian Visa interchange fees are here: http://bit.ly/visainterchangefees. Just incase anyone was interested. Whether or not these cards require a PIN or signature depends on whether they use the Chip-and-PIN system, which all new cards issued in Australia should.

No. Running as debit (w/ PIN) still incurs fees, though they are usually less than the credit card fees. If you gave a merchant a debit card and gave them the choice of running it 'as a debit' or 'as a credit' card, they would choose debit.

> How will overdrafts work? Will the check just not go through?

That's how it used to work, so sure, it's an option. A second option would be automatically taking the money out of your savings account, if available. A third option is, if you have a credit card with them, putting the overage on you your credit card. A fourth option would be to generate an automatic overage loan at a reasonable interest rate, without assessing a ridiculous fee.

In Brazil it is standard practice for banks to attach a credit line to every checkings account, and if you overdraw it counts as a loan against that credit. Some even include a grace period (10 days or so) where you don't pay anything if you bring your balance back to black.

However, you definitely don't want to keep using that credit line. Interest rates are on the order of 120%/year.

Hell, an automatic loan with an _unreasonable_ interest rate would be better than a $30 charge on a $5 overdraft.

Ask your current bank about an "overdraft line of credit". I have a US bank account with a boring, not-cutting-edge-in-any-way bank, and I specifically asked for this (and got it) for both my personal & business accounts. So I suspect it's an option that's available at most banks if you have a decent credit history.

I have a 2500 or 3K credit line attached to each account; if I overdraw my balance -- with a bill payment, ATM withdrawal, whatever -- the extra comes from the overdraft line of credit, and there aren't any fees. I even used to be able to transfer money from the overdraft credit line into my checking account using their online interface, but they've turned that off now.

I've never overdrawn for more than a few days (due to poor planning, generally), so it's a perfect safety net... I always hated those fees!

It's not quite the same as a normal credit card line, I suppose -- where if I pay off the balance at the next statement, I pay no interest -- but the interest has never been more than pocket change, so I haven't even bothered looking it up.

[edit: sorry; I intended to post this in response to a post replying to you, not your post]

Banks make ridiculous amounts of money. I'm sure missing out on a few fees in favor of new customers that add to their reserves won't be a big deal.

Making money in banking is trivially easy. The big banks need to assess all sorts of fees to sustain their humongous and humongously unnecessary cost structures.

Pretty much every claim/assumption in this is wrong. Traditional banks make more money by adding fees, but they make plenty of money before fees, too. Interest and interchange revenue -- they are things.

Only 4 days after losing their Lead Engineer. http://twitter.com/#!/KirinDave/status/70217986962751488

Anyone know the reason why? I'm not asking because the popcorn factor but rather to understand if there's something fundamentally broken about the concept & company.

I'm the CTO of BankSimple. I can confidently say that there's nothing fundamentally broken about the concept or company. BankSimple wasn't the right place for Dave, but he's a brilliant programmer – seriously, one of the best I've ever worked with – who will end up doing great things no matter where he ends up. I'm really grateful that we got a chance to work with him.

To be clear: this is not the easiest business in the world to start, particularly given the slow-moving pace of the banking industry, regulatory burdens, etc. But we've been making substantial progress, and we have a growing team who do fantastic work.

You are, of course, free to be skeptical of how I present the state of our company because it's in my best interest to put a positive spin on things. That said, it's also in my best interest to be open, because we know that many of our early (potential) customers are coming from communities like this one, and building trust is critical for our success.

It is almost like we are professionals.

But be careful, Al3x. Being professional about these sorts of things generates almost no News Forum Karma, which as we all know is a critical resource for startup fund raising. I suggest you edit your post with a few tactical emoticons.

Errr ... can you explain the reasoning behind your reply? Did you feel that the average reader would not be intelligent enough to notice that you did not actually answer the question? (why did Dave quit/was fired).

If anything your post has gotten me to trust your service significantly less, because it looks like you think you can get away with duping potential customers with some polite doublespeak.

Can you explain how it is you are being open when you did not in fact answer the question?

He's politely giving you all the information that it is prudent and professional for him to reveal.

Allow me to put it bluntly: my reasons for leaving BankSimple are my business. I have no interest, reason, or obligation to tell you more than I have.

It's none of your business why Dave quit/was fired.

Of course not. And if al3x had just said that, it would have been swell. In fact, that would have fit much better with his claim of openness than the cookie-cutter non-answer he actually gave.

Uh huh. "I was thinking about changing banks, but Dave Fayram left the banking startup I was thinking of using, so I think I'll stick with Chase".

Pretty sure this is a popcorn topic and nothing more.

You don't think the Lead Engineer leaving a company not long before it's launch is not something to be worried about?

No? Programmers get better offers all the time. Why make less money at an uncertain startup when you can make more money somewhere that has a certain future?

I have no idea that this happened, but people leave for reasons other than "the product sucks". In fact, I would guess that compensation and getting along with your coworkers are much bigger factors.

FWIW, it certainly doesn't sound like it was for a better offer. He's actually on the market right now: http://twitter.com/#!/KirinDave/status/70222704883662848 http://twitter.com/#!/KirinDave/status/70221497888808960

It is flattering to be under such scrutiny. I feel as if the slightest motion of my fingertips could send startups spinning into chaos. Would my medical records and long-form birth certificate be of any use? My cancer history might change how you want to invest your money.

To be fair, these links all came from twitter - you broadcasted into a very public channel. To an entirely outside observer (eg me) it's worth noting... Personnel is a very big deal in startups, BankSimple is relatively high profile, and you were their 'Lead Developer'. The scrutiny comes with the territory.

You're talking about it because it's fun to talk about. You don't care that it has practically nothing to do with the topic at hand. And despite the fact that you're talking about a person who's in the room, you're fine with speculating about his career.

And, whatever, but don't try to pass it off as high-minded.

No offense, but you come off as a bit of jerk in this whole thread. I think that speaks more than the supposed drama of your departure.

What the fuck are you talking about? No he doesn't. He hasn't cursed once in the whole thread, even though it's attempt to turn a story about Banksimple issuing cards into a conversation about the drama of his departure from the company.

Jiminy. There are people coming off as jerks on this thread. Dave isn't one of them. I might be, but if so, I'm far from the only one.

This intense urge to turn every goddam thread into some soap opera --- no, I got that wrong, some lucha libre backstory --- is one of our worst habits, and the people who give a shit about HN discussions need to start calling it out.

This topic you want to talk about is none of your fucking business.

Point taken. The next time people try to misattribute subtexts to my tweets to drum up drama, I will try to stay out if the way. Even if that drama might have a negative effect on my career and relationships, I will remain silent.

I apologize for my glib comment. Originally, I was on your side and felt the derail was unwarranted given the original context. Perhaps advice we can both benefit from is that the lesser said the better.

Yeah let's definitely find a way to make him share the blame for this thread.

Surely, if it's Important to understand why Dave left BankSimple to understand the health of the company, it must also be Important to know what kind of offers Dave has on the table now. Surely this isn't just drama!

I personally could care less about his offers. I honestly don't even care about the person in question (no offense, heh). And for most startups this type of stuff wouldn't bother me. If this was a twitter clone, I doubt anyone would care. But when it's a startup whose sole job is to handle and store money, I think it's worth being a bit more paranoid of the goings on within the company.

You may disagree, but that's my line of thinking on the subject.

Give me a break. You don't have the slightest clue who's doing dev work at the companies that handle your money today. PayPal probably loses a lead dev once a week; nobody writes threads about that.

This is just a nugget of drama small enough for people to get their nerdy little hands around and hacky-sack across HN. It doesn't help that Dave's someone a lot of people here know.

This isn't as big a deal as I'm making it sound, but I don't like arguments that insult our intelligence.

This is like talking about 2 people... that are actually in the room... listening... standing next to you.

I heard Wells Fargo kidnapped his family...

My concern would be "gee, hope he wrote good documentation."

I sincerely doubt the code is even 5% of the effort that went and is going into making this company. They're building a product in one of the most heavily regulated sectors in a market with an enormous barrier to entry. Dumping the entire codebase and starting from scratch would probably take only a few months, except that the new code would likely have to be re-certified by a dozen agencies.

Because, no way is a message board full of geeks going to come up with a way to justify drama!

That's a tweet that suggests acrimonious split if I've ever seen one.

Yes, clearly it means the opposite of what it says, because Dave is like that. I love drama, don't you?

After all, I am known for my reserved, duplicitous, and very guarded twitter account.

Twitter blocked by evil firewall at work. What does this tweet say?

> I've stepped down from my position as lead engineer of BankSimple. I wish them good luck, with or without me.

"I've stepped down from my position as lead engineer of BankSimple. I wish them good luck, with or without me." by KirinDave (Dave Fayram)

Interesting that his pic is still in their "Team" mosaic on the homepage.

Twitter's staff pic on their recruitment page shows a lot of people who have left too.

They should put big red X's over each member that left, Battle Royale style.

Yes -- either they want to keep his pic there, to give the false impression that they're still benefiting from his expertise! Or even worse, now that Dave has left, there's no one in the company technically capable enough to update their home page.

Either way, this is serious! I'm going to start on my "breaking news" blog post now!

Or, you know, they could be busy with work that's actually important.

They're kind of busy.

Can someone please tell me the benefits of BankSimple over all the other online banks or your local credit union? I'm afraid I don't get it.

In some ways, they're over-reaching. Sure, people hate the banks right now and it seems like a cash-cow industry that one could really disrupt. However, banking has a lot of competitors including not-for-profit ones in the form of credit unions. It will be very difficult to offer higher rates, better service, etc. than a non-profit credit union while one is trying to make a profit.

However, if I were BankSimple and you said what you and I have said to me, I'd respond that banks are crap at IT. I'd say that we (BankSimple) are basically a better IT department for your bank. We're going to create a banking technology stack that you'll enjoy using while getting you better rates than the large banks (BofA, Chase, etc.) offer you and better terms (like ATM refunds). We're going to do this by using wholesale banking offers from FDIC-insured institutions.

Will it work? Maybe. I'm skeptical. Refunding ATM fees and better terms are going to eat into margins a lot. The wholesale bank is going to take their margin. That doesn't leave much for good rates. Plus, some banks are starting to get good at IT. Wells Fargo and Bank of America have deposit-scanning ATMs. Chase has an iPhone app that lets you scan checks. When it comes to terms, I already have a bank that offers me 0.55% checking and 1.25% savings with ATM refunds.

It isn't an easy road for them, but what they're trying to do is create a better technology package for users. That might mean making a card that can do both credit and debit in one card - I've wanted that. That might mean NFC payments faster than banks will support them. That might mean better Mint.com-like tools than Mint. That might be the plainer, easier to understand language they're pushing.

And, even if they don't completely succeed with a retail venture, they might end up with a great OEM package for banks and credit unions to outsource their web and mobile technology stack to. Most small banks do outsource their interfaces and BankSimple might be creating the best OEM package for small banks (if/when their retail ventures fail) inadvertently in the process. I've seen plenty of banks with horrid web interfaces and very few allow for check scanning on either desktop or mobile. BankSimple could do well in the OEM market even if it fails to convince consumers of its retail ambitions.

/just to clarify, I'm not affiliated with BankSimple, it was just a pleasant way of phrasing that paragraph.

In reading your second paragraph I did a bit of a double-take. You started to summarize almost exactly what Josh wrote to me in an email back when I contacted them with some questions. My point was that while I like the idea of a bank driven by new minds, ultimately I can't think of anything that they will give me that my current bank (Ally, if it's important) isn't giving me right now.

So much of the banking decision for me is based on how well the bank gets out of my way, low fees, and high interest rate. My current bank manages the last two perfectly well, has excellent customer service, and the few issues I have with the web presence are minor.

Josh mentioned that they won't be targeting the absolute rate chasers, but that they will be providing an experience that changes everything (my words, not his). I'm skeptical, but I've been surprised by plenty of other startups. I'm sure there's innovation to be had in the banking industry, I just don't know how much of a draw that innovation will end up being.

Unfortunately every time I look at their site I don't see much that I don't get out of my current bank and my email conversation with Josh was heavy on the criticism of my current bank but light on exactly WHAT they are doing wrong. So for now I'll have to ride the hype with everyone else and just see what comes out.

It will be very difficult to offer higher rates, better service, etc. than a non-profit credit union

Credit unions generally have disproportionally high overhead due to their size, and their rates are not great lately because of the corporate CU collapse. CUs face 38 basis points of assessments for the next two years to pay for the corporate bailouts.

I am one of those people who asked for a Bank Simple invite. At the time I had an account at a bricks-and-mortar bank. Since then I have switched to ING Direct and in some ways I am a harder sell. But I will say this: UI does matter. It's not just about the fee structure. However it will have to be an awesome UI (by which I mean the money management layer available to the customer) to get me to switch again

Chase has an iPhone app that lets you scan checks.

Only for small amounts. If the check is for a large amount (over $750? I'm not sure exactly what the limit is), the app will refuse to let you scan it in and tell you to go to a branch instead.

I imagine they also have a bank-by-mail option, which (I find) is useful if you don't go near your branch normally anyway and don't care about a few days delay in your deposits.

True, it'd be nicer to scan in the check (and not have the mail delay) but it's not a huge pain point for me to drop the envelope in the mail; so I haven't been to my bank's branch in 5 years.

It's $1000. I've found that this is an issue with rent checks pretty regularly.

Right, there are already good alternatives to consumer-hostile banks, such as the fantastic Charles Schwab.

I always recommend them to people because they pay my banking fees, are insured, ethical/reputable, pioneered the discount brokerage, and have great 24/7 customer service. They've helped me out of numerous jams over the years.

> Right, there are already good alternatives to consumer-hostile banks, such as the fantastic Charles Schwab.

Do you mean Charles Schwab is the "good alternative" or the "consumer-hostile bank"?

It's no longer offered, but I have a credit card from Schwab that gives me a flat 2% cashback every month on every purchase, no opt-ins every month, no tiers, no limits. The cash gets ACHd into my checking account. The card has 0% foreign exchange fees, free concierge service, 90 day price-drop match guarantee, doubles every manufacturers warranty up to 5 years (aside from things like cars), and has $0 annual fee.

And the Schwab checking account isn't half bad either.

As another owner of this card, I have to note that Schwab is no longer "subsidizing" this card, and has completely been disassociated from it. I believe the reason was that they weren't making any money off of it, but my memory is a bit foggy now.

It is now serviced by FIA Services, no longer available to new customers, and of course terms and conditions are subject to change. So far, nothing has changed, but still, the point is that this card was and is an anomaly.

The card doesn't stand alone, though. The point is there are tertiary banks that are more consumer friendly. Schwab, yes, and for them the credit crisis put their 2% card on the chopping block. But another tertiary bank, Fidelity, still offers the card that's always been like the Sister Card for the Schwab Visa: The Fidelity Amex is also an FIA card that is nearly identical in terms. It's reward structure involves tiers but it's very clearly a 2% card. And it has a 1% FETF.

Aside from that, it's identical.

And it doesn't change the fact that Schwab put together the terms of this card (certainly with the help of FIA) and that a more traditionally mainstream bank has not.

I also have the British Airways Chase card that literally has netted me a free Biz Class ticket to Europe. Very generous. But that's a signing bonus. If I were to keep this card as my daily-driver for a couple years Chase would make a lot more money off me than Schwab ever would've off the card that's now the "FIA Cash Rewards Visa"

The first one. I hoped the comma and "fantastic" would make it clearer. ;)

I am another fairly happy charles schwab customer, but their UI/UX is absolutely awful. I've used ING Direct, Wells Fargo, a local credit union, Chase, ING Direct, and FIA Card Services, and the only one that had a decent UI was Wells Fargo. With more and more banking happening online, it seems clear that there's some opportunity for a bank that understands online and understands UI to make a big play.

Meh. I agree the website could use some improvement, but it works and has been reliable in my experience. Its heaviness is less important to me than the customer-hostile policies of the average bank. I'm only on it a few mins a week anyway, I get my balance and history quickly and leave.

I totally agree with you, except that since I use mint, the only time I'm on there is when I suspect mint is out of date, or to mess with my bill pay stuff, so maybe 2 or 3 times a month. I was envisioning a bank that offered the perks of somewhere like Schwab or ING, but with better UI/UX.

Agreed. usaa.com already addresses all of these pain points.

USAA is also available only to members of the military and their families (they've been getting more lax over the years, though).

That is apparently no longer the case. The only major services non-military are ineligible for are auto and property insurance.

Eligibility description here: https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/why_choose_usaa_eligibility_...

But from what I can tell, the smartphone deposit feature requires that you be eligible for the auto and property insurance.

You are correct. It's just the insurance that's restricted to military. They are the best bank you'll ever use IMO.

Navy FCU and Pentagon FCU are also great (and open to anyone for a charity donation of around $25). I notice a trend!

They list all the advantages here: https://banksimple.com/#vision

In short, no surprise fee's and simple online banking (with extensive mobile support).

Obviously different banks have different issues but Chase (third largest US by deposits) already does everything in that vision. I really don't get Bank Simple. Integrating planning in a way that looks like Mint is nice, but Mint brings in your other accounts - and if they are trying to out Mint Mint, that is a pretty tall challenge. I can't speak for other banks but I don't see anything special here.

- The plain simple language bullet admits that of course there will always be legalese

- Real support. I've never had trouble at any hour getting a human being on the phone, empowered to deal with my issues. Facetiming or Skyping with my bank? I really don't see the point.

- Mobile from the ground up - Chase has great mobile apps that allow you to deposit checks by taking a photo. I believe other banks do as well and it seems like this will probably be pretty standard going forward.

- No fees. In four years I've been hit with a surprise fee once. It has been resolved.

"We provide access to the largest fee-free nationwide ATM network and our mobile app will locate an ATM closest to your current location." Not sure what that network is but is it more ATMs than Chase or BofA or Wells Fargo have?

largest fee-free nationwide ATM network

That's gotta be Allpoint. They run nearly all of the non-bank ATMs (Think: 7/11, pharmacies, gas stations). ING Direct has the same deal: http://app.ingdirect.com/atmlocate/index.html

That's actually a significantly worse deal than the banks and credit unions that refund ATM fees (to a point) so you can use literally any ATM on any network.

Agreed, I have an online savings account from HSBC and they even refunded a $5 ATM fee from a Vegas casino. I just make sure to carry that ATM card with me for the cases where I need money and can't get to my bank's ATMs, and this or the Ing product don't add anything to that.

I have an ING Direct account, and I've never been terribly happy with the allpoint ATM's. They tend to .. not look trustworthy. When you've got an awful looking ATM tucked away in a corner somewhere, I really don't want to give it all my account info.

1) their intent is to do for banking what mint did for financial information. mint wasn't the first site to do what it did, it just did it very well and sold itself well. banksimple isn't looking to solve the backend of banking, their sales pitch is a good user experience and customer support structure.

2) just because you don't have those problems doesn't mean that others don't. in the past 4 years, i've probably hit upon each of those problems. perhaps they aren't enough of a pain point for me to switch away from my bank, but they're valid points nonetheless.

3) their ATM network is the largest because its any ATM (i believe, based on what i've read). use their card in any ATM and they waive all fees. this exists in some other cards already, though usually in a limited capacity (my HSBC card waives the first 3 ATM transaction fees iirc)

The fact that it's a tech startup? Seriously, any startup that aims to disrupt our stagnant banking industry has my support.

https://banksimple.com/faq/ gives their USP

I've always wondered why after winning something (or in this case, getting 50k sign ups), people say "I'm humbled." I think the truth would be the opposite: "Wow, looks like I'm pretty awesome after all."

Yes, and it becomes to be a kind of cliché here and around. We could list them. Years ago we had the "X reasons to" lists, now we have "I'm very humble to be the best". It is a "preciosity" (not sure if this word applies correctly in English, I need to read Les Précieuses Ridicules, Molière, in English to make sure). Really intersting guys like PG do not usually have these preciosities themselves, but it is something that flourish during interesting times (like was Molière's).

In some ways the more awesome you are the more humility you have to signal, to avoid seeming arrogant.

Success (like getting a startup off the ground) takes a lot more than just personal skill/intelligence/hardwork- there's fortunate timing and circumstances, the hardwork and contributions of others, time and monetary investment of others, plain old chance luck. Recognizing that some part your achievements depended on others and things beyond your control both requires humility and can humble you.

That's not a bad state of mind, and it doesn't have to be just false modesty.

It's either misuse of English, or deliberate double-talk.

Original: http://www.jewishsightseeing.com/jewish_humor/punchlines_and...

BankSimple sound interesting but they will have to be offering something really awesome for me to even remotely consider doing business with a commercial bank ever again. (There days, I only deal with credit unions.)

They themselves aren't a bank. They partner up with banks that provide FDIC insured products. They just provide the customer service and the user interface.

This may sound like a perfect match, but honestly most banks can't be trusted: http://www.amazon.com/Best-Way-Rob-Bank-Own/dp/0292706383

BankSimple, not being terribly large, can't force the incumbents to play their game (like say, Apple could with AT&T to some degree - and they got lucky getting in with Cingular).

It will be interesting to see how this fares when the "financial service" supplier(s) starts yanking the chain.

What exactly would the chain-yanking look like? "Make your online banking suck!" "Charge random fees in an opaque manner!" "Make your customer service worse!" ?

And if they do have their chains yanked, they can switch their provider. It's not like banks have "coverage" to lock you in, like mobile networks.

agreed, someone needs to start a 'creditunionsimple' (and figure out a better name).

How about SimpleCU

You are in a very small minority (credit union customers).

In traditional banking, UX is an afterthought but from what I see, for BankSimple, banking takes the backseat but UX rules. I say this coz there's no details on FDIC, interest rates, etc. IMO, instead of doing Banking; they can sell their product to banks

"BankSimple account plus BankSimple debit card replaces your existing personal bank account. Make deposits, withdraw cash, pay bills, earn interest, and more.

However, BankSimple is not a "bank." We partner with chartered banks who provide FDIC-insured products, leaving us free to concentrate on designing the complete consumer banking experience, via the web and your smartphone. "

If any industry was waiting for a startup to come along and revolutionize it, it's the banking industry.

The industry isn't just "waiting" they are actively suppressing the revolution.

They know that once you get an upstart with lots of momentum, it could derail the racket they have going on right now.

Good luck to BankSimple... it'll be interesting to see how this turns out. For me, USAA is quite adequate for the time being.

> The industry isn't just "waiting" they are actively suppressing the revolution.

With some help of legislators ;)

That's already happened you didn't notice (yet), it's called bitcoin.

You might make a case for "happening" with bitcoin, but the banking industry is far from "revolutionized" in the past-tense.

Besides which, currency and customer support are two very different pieces of a much larger pie. At best, currency is the "implementation detail" behind a much larger set of day-to-day usability concerns inherent in banking.

Well given that just with the bitcoin client alone many banking services are either no longer needed or already provided by the bitcoin network.

Savings, transfers(much faster than any bank transfer, I mean my bitcoin reaches it's destination before I can finish filling in the bank transfer forms), security. All there.

I don't need customer support when there's no problems. I've never had something so easy to use to buy on the internet before.

I'm not discrediting it's future potential, but the number of things which you can buy with bitcoin right now is extremely limited

You might want to add something to indicate that you were being sarcastic.

I'm totally serious. Really. Bitcoin; I love the stuff, I'm using it to build an empire all the way from over here in China. And it was because of the difficulty of getting a bank account in the U.S. to do business there (while not being a resident) and in general dealing with banks that pushed me to bitcoin. I've never had something so convienient regarding internet transfers or payments.


Good to see the older users raising the level of discourse here.

This sounds great. Props to them if they can disrupt banking. The fact that they're not a real bank but some entity that works with partners to provide FDIC insured products is reassuring from a customer point of view. Not sure about how they will do their marketing though. Now, I hope that we, non-American customers, won't have to wait too long for this service.

Wait. I think I get it now. They're like mint, but with account management?

I'm pulling for BankSimple's success thanks to the abysmal nature of banking customer service. Hidden fees, long wait times on phone calls, ATM fees, ridiculous procedures to dispute charges...

With that said, how is BankSimple anything but a middleman? In my eyes, they fill one of two potential roles:

1. They're a customer service wrapper for banks, which means banks pay them to provide support. So banks are their customers, right?

2. They actually manage your money for you---a "broker for personal accounts." How do they generate revenue in this case?

#1 and #2 are both problematic. In a way, I'm the opposite of Aloisius: I clearly see BankSimple's benefits (Mint + support + SmartyPig), but I cannot understand how they will generate revenue while staying loyal to customers.

I'm BankSimple's CTO. To your points:

1. We're more than a "customer service wrapper". We don't license our technology or outsource our support staff to other banks. Banks are our partners, not our customers, and we only partner with a small number of banks who share our values and are willing to set aside things like fee revenue to work with us. We have a symbiotic relationship with those banking partners: we bring them deposits, and they make loans on those deposits and share the resulting interest margin with us. That is one of several sources of revenue for us, but not our sole source of revenue.

2. If customers like the way we help manage their money, we're able to connect them to a variety of financial products that are mutually beneficial to our customers, our banking partners, and to us. As above, our banking partners are happy because we're bringing them new customers for various financial products, many of which have a decent margin on them (CDs, for example). We share that margin with our partners, and that's another source of revenue.

Our business is all about aligning the interests of the banking industry with the interests of our customers. Where we can create that alignment, we profit.

I may be a corner case, but I suggest you https your entire site. I have my browser set to alert upon transitioning from https to http, and the alerts quickly become annoying while navigating your site.

That aside, I'm one more hoping you can bring some sanity, on behalf of the consumer, to this market.

I've had a very different experience with customer service.

I was able to do a lot of things like dispute charges, change address, and get information very easily on the phone with less than outlandish waiting times.

And I never incurred ATM fees either by using ATM's from my bank or just by using a credit card when I didn't have any cash.

The only real advantage I'd want is more ATM availability and higher interest rates. Otherwise, I can't say I've had that bad of an experience with a bank.

I cannot understand how they will generate revenue while staying loyal to customers

By skimming off a percentage of the interest your money is earning in their institutional account.

I thought about this, but I wonder if it is legal given that they're not a financial institution.

Alternatively, what kind of margin would they take off? 50 basis points? 100? Interest rates are already low, so a small cut right now looks very big to consumers.

EDIT: posts above suggest BankSimple will offer better rates than industry competitors. Where are the margins, then?

Compare the margin between ING Direct savings and BofA checking. If you were to offer rates slightly above and store all your money in an ING Direct savings account, you would be able to make quite a profit.

It's conceivable that a large institutional client would get even better rates than an individual ING Direct savings account, so there is plenty of money for BankSimple to skim off the top, as long as they have enough capital.

So, this prob isn't the place, but instead of cards or short range radio, I thought plugging into headphone jacks and having the phone do transactions (akin to what short range radio would do). Doesn't require any modification to phone and is backwards compatible with almost all phones (that have their won sdk (Symbian, iOS, Android, RIM) or use J2ME or BREW.

I wouldn't be able to bring this up myself (I just do code, hardware and banking is beyond me at times), but I would never object to being included with people who could:-D

Anyway, ::shrug::, just thought I'd place the idea out there since I feel it's good and like to see someone do it.

What's the big deal about BankSimple? They look about the same as most credit unions. My credit union has a good website & iPhone app, and doesn't charge hidden fees. They pay interest on my checking account.

Is it just me or does it seem sort of odd that they don't mention the FDIC anywhere on the page (whether they will be insured) You can't advertise that you will be FDIC insured?

See the FAQ (https://banksimple.com/faq/).

> Will my deposits be insured by the FDIC?

> Yes, all deposits will be insured to the FDIC limit (currently $250,000) through our partner banks at launch, just like with any other major bank (or credit union through the NCUA). FDIC insurance guarantees the safety of your deposits.

It's you.

I think BankSimple is going to struggle to find customers with its current proposition. The fact is that people are not as unhappy with their banks' fees, customer support or websites as BankSimple thinks (or at least suggests). People like branches and brands. The one thing people do like is products which is how ING broke into the business but an approach that BankSimple appears not to be pursuing.

The use of the phrase leaning into it is highly appreciated.

Interesting idea. I wish it were 'MortgageSimple' though - the mortgage industry is in serious need of an overhaul even more than banks right now.

I am surprised that so many people are willing to open a bank account with someone you've never heard of. I couldn't even find if they are FDIC insured.

I know several friends who wouldn't use mint.com. For them, it is a single point of failure. You can explain all the technical details you want but there is no way to get past their fears.

When shit hits the fan, you can expect the US govt. to bail out Bank Of America. SimpleBank? I am not so sure.

It's right on their page. Under 'Find a new alternative:'

"However, BankSimple is not a "bank." We partner with chartered banks who provide FDIC-insured products, leaving us free to concentrate on designing the complete consumer banking experience, via the web and your smartphone."

I hope that never leads to a "hot potatoe" situation when there is a problem.

That's kind of like saying you won't use web services because you don't want a "hot potatoe" [sic] problem between your ISP and their ISP when there is an issue.

Businesses contract out services all the time. In this case, BankSimple is using some established company to store your money. They just provide the web interface and someone to yell at when there is a problem.


Sure, it might be fear, uncertainty, and doubt on the part of adopters. But rightly so -- if there's one place where people are going to be conservative, it's with their banks.

The very first thing I did when I hit BankSimple.com was CTRL+F "FDIC". One tiny mention in a blog preview 2/3ds of the page down. That doesn't cut it.

It's BankSimple's job to inspire confidence in their offering. Their front page seems to spends more time talking in vague terms about how their service is going to be mobile centric, and how they're going to put me first. What their service is all about, and how it works -- the things I care about -- are buried and quite vague.


Judging by the IIN of the card in the picture it looks like they are using Visa behind the scenes.

I'd love to see someone like this be the first place to seamlessly incorporate a Bitcoin exchange into personal banking.

Competition is always good!

Poor site design. I can't read the vision statement. White out. Fixit. Simple

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