Online banking is becoming more prevalent nowadays, with many of the big banks offering their services for free online, but what about banks that only operate online? Would it be inconvenient? Maybe a little strange? A new service called Simple looks to revolutionize online banking by taking the entire banking experience online and giving users a clean and easy user interface. However, Simple isn’t a bank, but rather a service that operates under an actual bank -- in this case, Bancorp Bank. We ended up checking out the service for ourselves -- namely the iOS app -- to see what all the fuss is about.
What is Simple?
The service was named Simple for a reason. It’s just a simple online-only bank account that also comes with a debit card that you get in the mail a few days after you sign up for the service. The debit card is what you use to make all your purchases, and once you use it at a store, you’ll get a notification of your purchase on your iPhone, and the app will automatically show the transaction on the recent activities page, similar to how any other online banking service would work.
You can only transfer money to your Simple account through a bank transfer or by depositing a check. However, new users are subject to a 30-day probation from depositing checks. We weren’t told of the exact reason for this, but it most likely has to do with security purposes and such. However, if you contact customer support, which you can do easily right through the app, you can request that the 30-day period be modified a bit, and if they want to, they’ll allow you to deposit checks within this period, but the checks will be held onto for nine business days before it will be deposited. After the 30-day period is up, though, you’ll be able to deposit checks and have the funds appear in your account by the next business day or so.
Inside the app, you can customize a handful of different things. You can edit each transaction by renaming the transaction itself, adding a memo, and even adding a category to the purchase, such as groceries, office supplies, etc. The memo line even supports hashtags for search purposes, just in case you want to search for all transactions dealing with “#businessexpenses” let’s say.
The “Payments” tab allows you to create contacts for which you regularly pay bills to or send money to for whatever reason. You can enter in your utility company and set up a contact for them, that way all you have to do is just tap on the contact and send a payment over without entering in the details every time. Of course, many banks already do this in their online banking service, but we’ve never seen it this simple and easy before, especially in a mobile app. Plus, most mobile apps from banks are rather featureless, and only let you do a handful things that are offered on their web interface. However, with Simple, you can control your entire bank account from the mobile app.
There’s a dedicated “Support” tab that lets you quickly start a support ticket if you’re having trouble with the service or if you have any questions. We found customer support to be very helpful and even more responsive. We ended up getting answers to our questions within a half-hour of asking them. In fact, customer support is a big feature in the Simple app. The “Account” tab even features a button that you can press to call their customer support directly if you don't want to use the ticket system. The "About" tab also includes pretty much everything else that you would need, including an ATM finder, account information (like the routing number and the account number itself), and even a place where you can “block” your card if it becomes lost or stolen.
Simple does have a web interface if you prefer to manage your account through that, but there doesn’t seem to be any big features that are exclusive to the web interface itself. However, you can print out direct deposit forms, as well as statements through the web interface, but other than that, many of the same features are available on the mobile app, which is something that a lot of banks don’t do with their mobile apps.
Of course, there are a couple of things to be aware of when using Simple, other than the unfortunate 30-day probation period. First, the service is obviously online only, meaning that there are no physical locations that you can go to if you need to deposit or withdraw money. That might be a deal breaker for those who prefer physical interaction when dealing with money, but personally, I hardly ever go to a physical branch to do a banking transaction anyway. The web interfaces and mobile apps do everything I need to bank efficiently. Plus, online-only banking isn't anything new. PayPal has been doing it for years, but the fresh perspective that Simple offers makes it an intriguing option.
The other caveat is security. Of course, Simple is a brand-new service, so it hasn’t been available long enough to know how secure the service is, but let’s be honest, if you’re worried so much about security, you’re probably not banking online anyway.
Currently, Simple is invite only, so you can either sign up to be on the wait list, or find someone already using Simple to get an invite for the service. In the end, Simple is an easy-to-use banking service that isn’t necessarily anything too special, but it offers a unique user experience without feeling like you’re being controlled by a big bank. I never experienced any problems with it, and while new users will definitely not like the check-depositing limit during the first 30 days, there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to try out Simple if you get the chance. It may not be for everyone, but those that like the idea of online banking will truly enjoy it. The app is available for free on both iOS and Android.