Thoughts on BankSimple.
The need for renovations in the banking industry is obvious – not just from a management and trust perspective but also from a consumer facing perspective. BankSimple is an upcoming web-based bank that hopes to offer just such a service. They aren’t even live yet, but have been garnering significant press. Here are the distinguishing features of their service they’ve revealed thus far:
Phones are Answered by Real People – No Automation.
This is a nice feature, though personally I don’t spend much time on the phone with my bank. I already do almost everything via the web-based interface…but automated menus are a pain in the behind, so this would be nice.
Terms are Explained in Simple English instead of Complex Legalese.
This is a nice feature, though I don’t really see the current terms from banks being too complex. They are annoyingly long – but I think they have simplified (due to new laws?) over the years and don’t generally sneak too much concerning into them.
No Hidden Fees (this includes overdraft and late fees).
This is nice, though I didn’t see any details on how BankSimple intends to handle when an individual overdrafts their account. I also wondered when a late fee issue would ever arise – since at this point it seems to be a checking/savings solution, not any sort of loan solution.
Deposit Checks via Phone.
I like this feature. This is one of the few remaining reasons I still go to a bank in-person – to deposit checks.
Mobile Based Banking Management.
This is another nice feature and if done right could offer some sweet abilities to manage financial information ala Mint.
Well, they all say this one, but the proof is in the pudding as they say.
Automatic Integration of Checking and Savings.
This feature is a no-brainer and hopefully will set a precedent for the rest of the banking industry. Essentially, BankSimple makes it as if one has only one single account – while transparently redistributing funds between interest bearing and regular checking accounts.
Advanced Financial Management Tools.
I wasn’t amazingly impressed – until I watched the video. Okay, the whole safe-to-spend concept looks well thought out and pretty sweet. The goals feature is awesome. The intelligence for natural language search of transactions is pretty cool as well…and I’m hoping this means that they won’t be providing us with limited access to our transactions – my bank currently provides a rolling two years (or something like that) of transactions, then makes then unavailable. How annoying!
Honestly, they’ve got a bunch more…but I’m not going to spend all day typing up all of their features, go look for yourself.
What Is Missing?
So, what is missing from BankSimple’s package? Well, there is one thing that I’m not sure if they offer that my bank doesn’t offer that I sure would like. What? I’m so glad you asked. 🙂 Right now I can see scans of my checks that others have deposited but I can’t see scans of the checks I have deposited from others. Sometimes I see that I deposited x amount on x date and I want to figure out what checks exactly I deposited (yea, yea – I should just note them individually at time of entry) – but there is no option to view a scan of the checks!
Other than that, I’m drawing a blank at the moment…I mean, they are even working on an API. Who has ever heard of a bank having an API?
I wish BankSimple the best of luck and am hopeful that they will not stop innovating here but continue to press forward and revolutionize the banking industry. No-fee PayPal-esque transactions? Integrated microloans? P2P lending? Loans? Credit Cards?