The New New Bankers
Here’s something that’ll resonate if you’ve tried to communicate with your bank lately: “Banks make money by keeping customers confused.” That’s how Josh Reich, cofounder of Simple, explained his company to the New York Times. “There’s no incentives to make the experience better,” he added.
Today the Times writes about how Mr. Reich and his cofounder Shamir Karkal want to provide an alternative, in the form of a stripped down, perfectly clear alternative–one completely without sob-inducing hidden fees.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Waiting for Beta
Betabeat just received a note from the personal finance startup formerly known as BankSimple. The first signup was in February 2010, the company says, and it’s first come, first serve. That means people who signed up recently will have to wait until summer to get their invites. “We have begun sending out invites, currently a few dozen at a time, and then we will escalate from there,” Simple says. “If that seems a bit slow, it is deliberate. To get ready for a wider release, we are beginning with the core features of spending and depositing, and looking to our first customers for feedback before releasing the full product.”
Dollar Dollar Bills Ya'll
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.