After much anticipation (at least around the Betabeat offices!), BankSimple is finally accepting its first users. And it couldn’t come at a more opportune time for the innovative financial startup, which works with chartered banks to offer a better, more transparent experience for customers in managing their money.
In a blog post today, CEO Joshua Reich said the service is still invite-only, but pointed out that its the first time non-employees get to test drive the system.
On the heels of Occupy Wall Street’s criticism of big banks and an email from MoveOn.org urging folks to “Close Your Bank Account,” consumers have been fleeing traditional banks for credit unions. ABC News reports that 650,000 people switched to credit unions since Bank of America announced its (since-cancelled) plans to institute a $5 debit card purchase fee. After “Bank Transfer Day” on Nov. 5, 54 percent of credit unions reported an increase in share growth.
It’s easy to see consumers looking for an alternative turning to BankSimple instead, although it will be under a different name.
As part of the announcement, Mr. Reich said BankSimple is dropping the “Bank” part and will just be called Simple. Hrmmm, that’s either a branding coup or overkill (Think of the trademarks, people!). But it’s an unambiguous win for in terms of domain names: the startup owns Simple.com.
Although originally launched in a Brooklyn basement, the company, which has $13.1 million in financing from VC firms including locals like IA Ventures, Lerer Ventures, and Thrive Capital, is now based in Portland. *Sniffles*
Mr. Reich explained what consumers can expect from Simple:
“Using Simple, you can make purchases with a Simple Visa® card, pay bills, earn interest, set up and track savings goals, and much more. Simple replaces your bank, but we are not a bank. You use our mobile and web apps and speak with our customer relations team when you have questions. We partner with chartered banks that hold your deposits in FDIC-insured products. They take care of money, we take care of customers, and together we’re delivering a new type of financial experience that’s easier, faster, and friendlier.”
Fast Company got an early look at its iPhone app, which looks less than simple. For a little more detail, take the video tour of the desktop experience. It’s from back in September, however, so you’ll have to mentally redact the Bank part of the logo: