Most of my friends in banking and fintech have followed the announcement and launch of (Bank) Simple pretty closely, certainly tuning in well before founder and CEO Josh Reich came onstage at Finovate Fall in New York last year (see the video) and showed off their new iPhone application.
There were many ooohs and aahs from the Finovate crowd regarding the app’s user experience (my personal reaction was mixed, though I truly applaud their impact on fintech application design). With its ‘safe to spend’ and ‘locational/proximity transaction’ search and awareness, it looks like the team at Simple is just getting started.
One of the things Josh and Shamir Karkal, their CFO and co-founder, have said they were trying to do is build a bank that ‘doesn’t suck.’ I got a chance to talk to Josh and Shamir at the Future of Money Conference in San Francisco this spring, and I can attest that they are really approaching not only the banking technology stack differently, but their focus and level of transparency in their service delivery is unique.
In the conference’s panel, there was some great back and forth between Josh and the head of Wells Fargo’s mobile banking, as Josh talked about how they answer customer inquiries in late night all-hands sessions – I believe beer was involved – and how they all respond with personalized emails, hand written letters, and a focus on rapid customer response through social networks (especially Twitter – you can see their feed here).
Many in the audience probably questioned whether this type of service focus through technology could really scale as Simple ramps up its user base. Can they maintain this focus on delivering a simple alternative to traditional consumer banking service as they move toward 25,000 customers, 50,000 customers, 100,000 customers – or far more?
So far they are being very smart about their growth as they ramp up, and taking a stroll through their twitter stream illustrates their approach to service (and provides some insights into the services they plan to offer). You can read more about the launch of Simple here and their point of view.
What does Simple’s Twitter feed tell us about Simple’s approach to service and to the future of its technology?
People Are Paying Attention
Simple has nearly 20,000 Twitter followers. While many of these followers may indeed be inside-the-beltway fintech and banking insiders, I would still imagine the majority are probably actual beta customers. This number is much larger than financial institutions with much larger customer bases – and about ten times the 2,036 following @Movenbank, Brett King’s Bank 2.0 startup (though to be fair, Movenbank’s still in alpha).
Simple Believes In Its Vision But Knows It Has A Ways To Go
All Hands On Deck – CEO Josh Reich Answers The Phone Too
People Are Ready To Be Customers
And don’t mind telling the big banks they are leaving…
Handwritten Notes Make A Difference
Prospects Respond To Transparency
UX Matters – As Does A Sense Of Humor
Small features like transaction memo posts matter to our users. This exchange was pretty typical of what I saw from Simple – amusing but quick and responsive – but above all very human (and very Twitter).
TMI? Banking customer service can have a little spice – at least at Simple.
Product Suggestions and Transparent Answers
There are thousands of messages to explore across a variety of topics within Simple’s Twitter feed, but you get the idea. You can learn a lot about their model of service and their technology roadmap by tuning into their web and social content. Let me know if you find anything interesting. Happy hunting and have a great weekend.
Here are a couple more things to check out about Simple – from their own customers.
Full disclosure: I am not a Simple customer. I’m on the waiting list like everyone else.