Software, Hardware, Silverware


This January I switched from Bank of America to Simple. Simple is an “e-bank”, and what I mean by that is they don’t have physical branches. What that means for their customers is that there’s no tellers to aid you through withdrawals or deposits. Personally, I had already been using ATM’s for all of my interactions with my bank, so an online-only bank was just fine. Besides, e-banks have one distinct advantage: a real incentive to make their online presence great.

This is where Simple excels far beyond any of their competitors, online or otherwise. They’ve already been likened to Apple, and I’d agree.

The Card

It starts with the card. Have you ever seen a better looking debit card? It is simple1 and beautiful. There are no unnecessary colors or artwork. A small logo and card data; that’s all that’s there and all you need. Just compare it to my old card and you’ll see. All cards should be this pretty. Because it isn’t flashy, it won’t call attention to itself (which is smart), except when you hand it to a cashier (“What is that?”).

A minor nitpick: the numbers on the card are the same plain white, and that is sometimes troublesome when entering card information online. For the most part, it’s a nonissue. Simple claims that the numberes blending in is a safety feature. To that end I say meh. If someone’s close enough to read the numbers off my card, it’s probably because they just swiped2 it.

The App

Moving on, we have Simple’s iPhone app3. Having used Bank of America’s iOS apps for three years, I can tell you Simple’s are in a league their own. The interface is thought out and intuitive. In lieu of blue gradients, Simple has chosen to texture the interface widgets. Sometimes, this idea gets out of hand, but in Simple’s case it is just gorgeous. The icon, too, is just wonderful.

The featureset is powerful (and growing). You can check your “Safe-to-Spend” amount, see what your saving, view and add metadata to transactions, deposit checks, schedule bills and other payments, and locate ATM’s4.

I’d like to detail one feature: photo check deposits. Most banks now have them, and they’re generally terrible experiences. With Simple, they took a little longer than most but did it so much better. You take a photo of your check, and within two days it is credited to your acccount. Is that as fast as an ATM? Nope. But that’s a minor drawback for an all-around superior banking experience.

I didn’t think I’d ever enjoy using a banking app. It’s gotta get over a huge barrier, after all: reminding me how poor I am. Simple’s done it. There’s no going back.

The Site

Simple’s website is another masterpiece. Combining the standard stream of transactions with some excellent analytical data, Simple has produced a modern banking website that’s enjoyable to look at as much as it is to use.

The more you peruse the site, the more tiny details you pick up on that Simple’s considered. One of my favorites is how Simple quickly learns which day your paychecks arrive on and then averages them to let you know how much you should be expecting and when. It’ll then use that data to build graphs showing how much your spending on each paycheck. It is all very useful and helpful.

My favorite feature, however, is Goals. With Simple, the concept of having separate checking and savings accounts is gone. Instead, we have a singular account (that does accumulate interest) and Goals. Goals allow you to take money from your “Safe-to-Spend” amount and place it into a digital shoebox for spending later. It can be a fixed amount, or Simple can take a bit each day toward a “goal”. It’s ingenius; I can’t believe no one else was doing this.

Let’s back up for a moment: I’ve mentioned “Safe-to-Spend” a couple times now. What’s that, you ask? “Safe-to-Spend” is Simple jargon for the amount of money it’s OK for you to spend right now. Your disposable income. “Safe-to-Spend” takes your available balance and removes any payments you have scheduled, money you have in goals, and pending transactions. It’s genius and, again, I can’t believe it’s the first time I’ve seen it.

The Wrap-Up

The best moment I’ve had with Simple so far happened at my local Apple Store. I had stopped in to purchase an extra Lightning cable, and when I handed my card to the blueshirt he asked how I liked Simple. I told him it was great, and he told me he was still waiting on his invite, and so I sent him one, right there in the Apple Store.

Simple is an fresh take on the traditional checking account. Who would have guessed that people would be jonesing for an invite to a bank? I always though people hated banks. Simple is great. Its founders are dedicated to building the absolute best banking experience. It’s getting better all the time. If you’re interested, you can follow along with its development on their blog.

  1. Go figure. ↩︎

  2. Pun absolutely intended. ↩︎

  3. They’re on Android, too, and I’m sure that’s great. ↩︎

  4. There are over 40,000 free ATM’s nationwide. ↩︎