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Banking should be Simple

I’ve yet to meet a single person who will give me a raving review about the company they bank with. Sure, there might be a few things the bank does well. Or a clerk that takes care of customers and is pleasant to deal with. But those statements are always followed with a statement covering the downfalls of that bank. Whether it’s excessive fees for no apparent reason other than charging a fee, or lack of Online bill pay there’s always something to complain about when it comes to banking.

Technology has a way of disrupting entire industries, flipping the business norm on its head and making people rethink how a particular industry should work. Just look at the pushback the popular taxi replacement service Uber has received as it launches in new cities. That list includes Denver where it’s fighting new targeted legislation that would put it out of business. Big business is afraid of change.

One industry primed for disruption is banking, and Simple is the company that plans on using technology to do make it happen.

Simple is a bank, but not in the classic sense. The only way to deal with Simple, be it depositing money, making a payment or balancing your account is to open an app on your smart phone. There aren’t Simple branches across the country in grocery stores and strip malls filled with unhappy employees. There’s a Web site, an Android app and an iPhone app. That’s it. If you want to deal with Simple, those are your options. And in our connected world, do we really need more than that?

At first, the idea of not having a branch to visit incase you really need something is a bit of a shock. But then you realize that you can get ahold of a real person, not an automated service, 24-hours a day 7-days a week by picking up the phone and dialing a phone number. Or if you’re shy and would rather communicate in a text message-like thread, Simple allows for that too.

Since there’s not a branch for you to visit when you need to deposit money, Simple has built check deposit software into the app itself. Simply (no pun intended) sign the check and include your account number on the back and then take a photo of the check. The entire process can be carried out from anywhere your smart phone has a signal. And of course Simple supports direct deposit from your employer, as most older banks do.

The thought of not having a physical branch to visit while a shock and a big change from the status quo isn’t something that will disrupt the banking industry. Where Simple really sets itself apart from traditional banks is its no fee approach. You won’t find ATM fees, transfer fees (excluding International transfers), over-draft fees, minimum balance fees or any-other-type of fees you can think of when you’re a Simple customer.

Simple is absolutely free.

In a time when most banks are trying to find ways to nickel and dime customers, creating new fees to increase its own revenue stream, Simple is giving banking customers a free alternative. And it promises to stay that way.

Alright so far we have free banking, no branches, smart phone apps and real people on the other end of the phone. All of which are great improvements over the current banking system, but there’s still more that can be done.

Simple allows users to tag, and categorize transactions. When you buy something from Starbucks, you can tag it with #coffee or a similar tag and at any given time you can view your spending habits for the tag. This tagging feature many not sound like a big deal, but once you’re adjusted to tagging transactions I don’t see how you’ll be able to go back to a normal bank statement.

After you begin using Simple you’ll have a feature called Goals enabled on your account. Goals allows you to set aside money for a specific reason. One example would be to buy a puppy. You can enter “buy a puppy” as your goal on the site, a dollar amount and the date you’d like to have the money set aside for it. Simple will then take your goal and make it happen. Every day you’ll see a set amount of money taken out of the “Safe to spend” category and put into the Goals category.

If you get into a bind and need the money you’ve set aside to pay for something, you can always spend it, but a psychological barrier is formed in your mind when you see money broken up into a safe and unsafe category; making it less likely you’ll spend past the safe zone.

What would a modern bank be without some sort of bill pay? Since Simple only provides its members with a debit card, and no physical checks, you can send checks to individuals and businesses in just a few taps on your phone. Again, there’s no fee for Simple printing off and mailing a check on your behalf, it’s just one of the many perks of being a member.

In the past I have ran into issues with banks having to mail a bill pay check for my because the business didn’t accept electronic payments. I would send out the check, marked for the due date, and that would end up being the day the bank sent the check. This would result in late fees and monthly calculations of when I needed to send the check for it to be received on time. With Simple, you let it know what day the bill is due on, and the check will be there on that date.

All of these features combined make for an appealing banking experience. There are shortfalls the company will have to overcome, such as the inability for members to deposit cash, and the lack of joint accounts (or a savings account if Goals just aren’t your thing), but it’s on the right path. Still in an invite only phase, you’ll have to visit Simple.com to sign up and wait to gain access. Or if you bump into me around town, ask if I have a spare invite to send you.

I waited 7 months for my invite to arrive, and it was well worth it.

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