...oh and after that, please create a mobile site that allows me to login from any device. I despise having to use my wife's iPhone to check my balance!
– like most banks, WF have a ludicrously outdated web interface that makes doing the simplest thing inordinately painful.
– like most banks, WF suck at providing a complete historical transaction history and search. Case in point – a couple weeks ago I wanted to query a transaction on an older account, after checking online and being transferred between at least four different customer service agents in different divisions, I was none the wiser. The best they could do was offer to send me printed statements, at a $100 cost.
- like most banks, WF make obscene profits while engaging in shady practices - e.g., trying to upsell me every single time I call them, mailing me an offer for a "free" credit score service (that, if you read the small print, is actually a subscription) and not least discriminatory lending practices (c.f., recent settlement with Justice Dept)
Bottom line, they don't deserve my business.
I then moved over to ING. It has been great, but they were bought by Capital One and I am worried that things will go downhill (and I don't particularly want to do business with Capital One). Simple looks like a great alternative--I wish I could get a guarantee that they won't be bought by some shady megabank a year after I take the time to change over.
What's interesting though is that despite these complaints, consumers generally are averse to switching their banks.
So the question is – how valid is that research given consumers haven't had a real alternative?
Now that we're (finally) moving away from paper payments, seems to me that it's a bad idea to bank on consumer complacency. Either way, I'm just happy that there's a decent alternative.
I agree that this is just incremental improvement that actually already exists some places, but it seems like Simple is the first "bank" that deeply understands both software and the importance of user experience. (And perhaps also platforms, which could be incredible in banking/finance.)
That's pretty unique. And it's taken them a remarkably short time to catch-up to current banks. Personal finance is definitely a schlep industry.
Simple is going to compete on experience, not features. This has worked time and time again for lots of product companies, so it will be interesting to see if it works in banking.
You've nailed it. We can't outcompete banks with gimmicks. We can't afford to lure people in with teaser rates or rewards programs that look great in an ad, but never work as well in reality.
Instead, we're competing on experience. Crafting that experience, especially given the cruft of banking, is a schlep. And its a huge competitive advantage for us.
To the grandparent poster, yes, switching banks is hard, but $30bn of revenue switches retail banks each year because of negative experiences. Thats a tiny amount for the top 4 banks, but a large market for a startup. If you can deal with the schlep.
Simple offers an extraordinarily low frustration factor between you and your goal, and this isn't captured by the "tech specs".
You still can't get a savings account, joint account, or a checkbook, so for most people it can't be the only account.
I'd say I've switched to Simple from cash, not to Simple from another bank. But seeing most people's banking usage, I think they might be well served to switch to Simple from their regular bank barring business reasons not to. My wife is switching to Simple from her bank, for example.
My main bank is HSBC. I rely on their international account features, and enjoy their premiere world card and travel friendly banking and currency capabilities. I can walk into a local branch here in the US and withdraw cash in Euros, for example, or trade them back in, at official banking currency rates, not usurious money exchange rates.
Previously a longtime Citibank, BoA (was Fleet, bought by BoA), and Wells Fargo customer, I have found HSBC to have by far the most customer friendly statements (both the bank and the card), and by far the least hassle as far as upselling, cross selling, fees, etc. Maybe this is why HSBC got a first place ranking as "most ethical company" ahead of Intel ranked number 2:
HSBC is also the only bank I've worked with that lets me use my true credit card (not debit card) as my main ATM card as well. This replaces the high fee high interest "cash advance" role that most credit cards offer, with the true ATM/debit card role of the bank's dedicated ATM card. This way I can carry a single card for both normal CC use and no-fee cash and ATM features. HSBC's online systems are fully integrated across both banking and card services, their bill pay system is fewer steps than Citi's. They also offer high interest "online only" savings rates matching online only offerings like ING Direct. HSBC do not, however, have mobile check deposit.
I'm such a fan of HSBC that when First Niagara recently bought the branch I'd opened my account in and I couldn't move due to banking regs, I reestablished my banking relationship with HSBC all over again. (Meanwhile, First Niagara is the worst online banking experience of any bank I've experienced. It's worth noting that the underlying DNS names of their various online services all point to third parties, suggesting First Niagara outsources all this. They're bad, and they should feel bad.)
After a year with Simple, I've recently closed all the other accounts but Citi which I keep as my business account to keep things separate.
HSBC feels the most ethical of the banks I've worked with, Citibank the most convenient, and Simple the most ... simple. Above I compared Simple to the iPhone. Perhaps HSBC = Nokia, Citibank = Blackberry, and Simple = iPhone.
A small business owner should try Citi, a world traveler should try HSBC, and an everyday consumer should try Simple.
Part of the magic in the support is having a button on the side of the site where I can just open up a ticket and describe an issue, and in short time get a response back from a real human being. For instance, I went to Mexico a week or so ago and sent them a message asking them to note this on my account. They quickly responded back stating that they had noted this, and including a list of fees and limitations that I could expect when using my card down there. This was a far superior experience to sitting on the phone, punching in prompts, and answering security questions.
If you do need phone support (I have once so far), the number rings through to a real person, and is superior to big banks in response time and helpfulness in my experience as well.
I'm a big fan of the service, as much for what it is now as for what I'm sure it's going to become as it continues to grow.
Apparently none of them thought to try offering higher interest rates. We moved for a 1/4 point.
I wonder if these are "real" checks against your account, or just checks against some single account that Simple owns. Because if they are real checks, it would be simple enough to get your own checks printed up with the routing info.
But I use Mint and BOA and am having a hard time seeing any other major benefits except for a nice UI and better customer service. However, I've probably only contacted BOA's customer service maybe 2 times in the last 5 years.
No paper checks seem to be another pain point to get over
I love the ideas, but it seems to me like this is a classic example of needing to be 10x better to convince even folks like HN readers that this is a useful change to make.
All this being said, after a few weeks of not using the card and not setting up direct deposit, I got a FANTASTIC email asking me to come back and use it - great job engaging inactive users.
First, generally deposits are done via an app without choosing a photo from the photo roll. So you'd need to actually print a check to get it through the app, or hack the app to take a digital file. The deposit is tied to your account, and your physical phone, which means if you use it for fraud it is easy to trace back to you. I suppose we could see stolen phones being used to deposit checks, but then they'd have to get the money out of that person's account and move on quickly.
Second, a bank that isn't customer-hostile will have many notification tools available. I get push notifications of large transfers in or out, and the same for low balance warnings or upcoming bill payments.
Moving on to some opining...
I wish I could print one-time use codes (QR or letters) on my checks. It'd be nice for me to submit the amount and the challenge code through my bank's app to authenticate a paper check.
But the fact is, I now write checks very infrequently. Assuming that's a broader trend, I think any major development we see in the handling of checks will be to benefit businesses, which might deal with a lot of them going in and out.
Not sure if I quite follow.
We don't let our customers write checks directly. They can send checks from our apps, but they don't get a checkbook. Even if someone produced checks with one of our customer's account numbers, our systems are set up to reject them.
We are working on a way to let our customers write their own checks, but we're taking our time on this feature as we want to shut down that fraud path with a special type of check. More details to come in the future.
The feature we released today is for check deposit. Yes, you could suffer if someone gave you a fraudulent check, but the risk is no different than depositing that same check at a teller.
From looking at (but not using) Simple, it doesn't seem like they have any technical advantages, they were just able to start fresh without the bureaucracy bloat that current banks have and focus on modern convenience.
This is pretty trivial from a technology point of view. The only real difference I've noticed in implementations is the size of the check they allow you to deposit. With Chase I can put in a $1k check I get often, Citibank doesn't allow that, although it has come in handy for the occasional $20 or $50 checks that pop up.
I understand the need to get funds, but with the time energy and passion devoted towards the ease of use of the form and the comprehensive FAQ I could not find the answer as to why this minimum was required.
All the comments here are interesting, and I understand that switching costs are high, but the $200 barrier without explanation made be bounce from the form.
I really want to give this a shot, but I want to understand the required funds first.
Is there any video of the interface working? I'm very interested in Simple's approach to the design of theirs.
What does endorsing a check really do?
I requested one at least 5 months ago.