6 Banks Making Saving as Easy as Spending

Automatic saving tools have been around since the dawn of the new millennium. You’re probably familiar with how they work; the tools allow users to contribute to savings goals on a regular basis using microtransfers. Some take a randomized approach to the contributions, transfering under $10 a few times a week from a user’s checking account to their savings account. Other tools round up the amount of everyday purchases and contribute the “spare change” to a savings account.

Though Bank of America’s autosave tool has been available since 2005, it wasn’t until the launch of investing app Acorns in 2012 that the industry picked up on the possibility of success for autosave and payment round-up tools.

Banks were quick to notice not only the positive consumer response to such tools but also the potential for more consumer deposits and increased debit card usage. While many banks offer a straightforward version of autosave, a handful offer more robust features, such as purchase round-ups, to entice users to keep a few more bucks in the bank. Below are autosave programs from six banks.

USAA’s Tracker

Tracker from USAA tries to make saving a bit more approachable with the use of a German Shepherd. The tool does not implement purchase round-ups, however. Instead Tracker randomly withdraws small amounts ranging from $2 to $9 from a user’s checking account one to four times per week. To keep the user involved, Tracker texts the user every day to inform them of their checking account balance.

Bank of America’s Keep the Change

Bank of America was well ahead of its time when it launched Keep the Change in 2005. The savings program rounds up consumers’ purchases to the nearest dollar and deposits the extra change into a separate savings account.

The tool is still available and is relatively unchanged today.

KeyBank’s EasyUp

KeyBank’s savings tool, EasyUp, is tied to a user’s debit card and works by automatically transfering $1 to a specified savings account every time a user makes a purchase. While customers can use the savings balance any way they choose, KeyBank specifically highlights using EasyUp to pay down debt faster.

Chime’s Automatic Savings

Chime, a U.S. challenger bank that was founded in 2013, uses the round-up concept to help users save money every time they make a purchase. In conjunction with this way to save, the bank also allows users to automatically transfer a percentage of each paycheck into their savings account. While this isn’t a new concept, Chime has built a user experience around the transfer capability and sends push notifications regarding savings progress to make it more accessible for users.

Qapital’s Rules

Qapital uses the concept of If This, Then That (IFTTT) to help users set up a structure around their savings transfers. The tool leverages behavioral economics to get users to save when certain actions are triggered. For example, accountholders can have Qapital set a small amount of money aside each time they visit the gym, every time it rains, or each time Donald Trump tweets.

Simple’s Round-Up Rules

Simple’s saving program, Round-up Rules, works similarly to Bank of America’s Keep the Change tool by depositing the “spare change” from each of a customer’s purchases into a separate savings account. The one difference with Simple’s savings tool, however, is that it waits until the spare change adds up to or exceeds $5 before transfering the cash into the savings account.

Simple’s Payments Go Analog with Paper Checks

U.S. challenger bank-turned BBVA subsidiary Simplehas a surprising new offering for its mostly millennial client base. The bank wants its customers to start using paper checks.

The Portland-based bank unveiled the news in an email to members yesterday. “We heard you: sometimes you just gotta write a check, even if you do your banking online. So here they are in all their glory—Simple paper checks,” the email read.

The checkbooks are available for $5 for a book of 25 checks and, as Simple noted, “they work just like regular checks (Cursive not required.)” For its clients who may not be familiar with checks, Simple included a special section in its FAQ on paper checks, including a subsection titled, “writing a check” that offers step-by-step instructions.

So why checks, and why now? Simple’s addition of paper checks is likely a patch of sorts. That’s because, along with today’s announcement, the bank also told clients that it is shutting down its billpay service. Starting July 9, users will need to use paper checks to pay bills.

It’s also possible that Simple truly did receive pressure from customers requesting the service. If this is the case, it says two things about the state of fintech. First, it’s a downvote for cash. It’s also a humble reminder that, despite all of the tech available, fintech still lacks proper digital channels that connect consumers with the right recipients. The checks aren’t a substitute for peer-to-peer payment apps such as Venmo and Zelle. Instead, Simple’s customers will likely use the paper checks to pay bills and small contractors who do not accept credit cards.

Founded in 2009 and launched two years later under the name BankSimple, Simple debuted at FinovateFall 2011. In 2014, BBVA purchased the challenger bank for $117 million. In September of 2018, Simple announced it will pay 2.2% interest on savings accounts with balances of more than $2,000. Late last year, seven months after Simple’s CEO and Co-Founder Josh Reich announced plans to leave, the digital bank appointed David Hijirida, a former executive at Amazon, as CEO.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Simple’s Payments Go Analog with Paper Checks.
  • Fenergo Supports Bahrain’s Blockchain-Based KYC.
  • Flywire Offers Chinese Students and Patients Discounted FX Rates.
  • doxo and Plaid Team Up to Bring Overdraft Protection to Billpay.

Around the web

  • ACI extends partnership with Vocalink into Saudi Arabia to facilitate the adoption of real-time payments through ACI’s UP Real-Time Payments solution.
  • First National Bank selects ProfitStars’ Commercial Lending Center Suite.
  • Centrale Kredietverlening selects nCino for its Bank Operating System.
  • Wipro develops blockchain-based solution with R3 to power digital currency transactions for Thailand banks.
  • Klarna and Stripe partner to offer Klarna’s Pay in 3 to Hideout festivalgoers through ticketing platform Kaboodle.
  • Forbes highlights BioCatch’s behavioral biometrics fraud prevention technology.
  • Insuritas and Tower Hill Specialty partner to bring Tower Hill’s property products to market through Insuritas’ bank partner network.
  • NIIT Technologies partners with Blue Chip to bring its wealth management application to Blue Chip’s IBM POWER.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Simple Appoints Former Amazon Exec as CEO

Seven months after Simple’s CEO and Co-Founder Josh Reich announced plans to leave, the digital bank, which is owned by BBVA, appointed David Hijirida (pictured right), a former executive at Amazon, to take the reigns of the nine year old bank startup.

Hijirida is replacing Dickson Chu who was temporarily working as the interim CEO of the bank. Chu will remain Executive Chairman of Simple’s Board of Directors. “We worked hard to find a leader for Simple with the right and rare combination of financial services knowledge, a track record of delivering great products, and a work ethic that aligns with our values,” said Chu. “David possesses a wealth of leadership experience and knowledge, bridging the banking industry and technology product world,” he added.

Hijirida worked at Amazon for almost 12 years, first building the online retailer giant’s global payments business, then transitioning as the director of Amazon Web Services and finally serving as the company’s Director of Advertising. But while his background is focused on big tech, he also has experience at Washington Mutual (before its collapse) and FleetBoston (which was later acquired by Bank of America).

Part of Hijirida’s reason for leaving the banking world is that he was “tired of the way banks were treating customers.” Simple seems to be a good fit, however, because, Hijirida said, “Simple’s mission, vision, and values address that exact frustration. I’m excited to enhance what Simple has already created, and I’m committed to launching products that help people feel confident with their money…. My heart is with the consumer.”

Founded in 2009 and launched two years later under the name BankSimple, Simple debuted at FinovateFall 2011. In 2014, BBVA purchased Simple for $117 million. Since then, things have been a bit bumpy but not quite turbulent– all three Simple co-founders have left and last year the company laid off 10% of its staff.

Though it is owned by a large bank, Portland, Oregon-based Simple puts forth a lot of effort to differentiate itself from the mega banks. In September, the bank announced it will pay 2.2% interest on savings accounts with balances of more than $2,000. Compared to the national average APY of 0.6%, this promotion certainly stands out. The effort aims to boost the bank’s customer base and it’s working– I’ve reactivated my previously dormant account and coerced my husband into joining.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Finablr Takes Majority Stake in Digital Gifting Innovator Swych.
  • Simple Appoints Former Amazon Exec as CEO.

Around the web

  • Analyst Ian McKenna highlights six Finovate alums – Access Softek, Bucket Technologies, Systelos, BlueRush, Tinkoff, and Golden – in his roundup of “fintech innovators making waves.”
  • Marketing Technology Insights interviews CallVU CEO Ori Faran.
  • Hydrogen, iProov, Ocrolus, and James Finance are among 20 startups competing for top honors at the India FinTech Awards 2018.
  • The Constant Investor’s Crypto Watch interviews Identitii CEO Nick Armstrong on the role of blockchain technology in fighting cybercrime.
  • Tinkoff Mobile extends service to seven additional areas of Russia including Smolensk and the Republic of Mordovia.
  • Kofax pays $400 million in cash to buy Nuance’s imaging division.
  • Walmart’s in-store Direct2Cash service gives PayActiv users instant cash access to earned wages.
  • Kony enhances Kony AppPlatform to support progressive web apps.
  • CEO Review magazine features AdviceRobo CEO Diederick Van Thiel.
  • BehavioSec launches new features for version 5 of its behavioral biometrics platform.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • PayPal Acquires Simility for $120 Million.
  • Finovate Favorites: A Baker’s Dozen of Best of Show Winners.
  • Touché, OCBC Bank Bring Fingerprint Authentication to In-Person Commerce.
  • P2Binvestor Earns $17+ Million in Funding.
  • Veridium Earns $150,000 Grant.
  • Newchip Lands $2 Million in Seed Funding.

Around the web

  • Experian secures FCA accreditation to supply Open Banking and PSD2 services.
  • Finn AI is the latest fintech to join Temenos Marketplace.
  • CFSI names financial health leaders: Envestnet | Yodlee, Finicity, Handle Financial, Lendstreet, Lend Up, Lending Club, Moven, and Simple.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

HoneyDue Tackles Major PFM Challenge: Collaborative Spending

Managing a relationship is stressful enough without introducing unnecessary miscommunications about day-to-day spending. This is one reason why many couples maintain separate spending accounts with pre-defined responsibilities (e.g. you pay the rent, I’ll pay the utilities, etc.). But that doesn’t alleviate the need to communicate, especially when one person has more “discretionary” funds. And separate accounts can lead to more trouble if one person is more of a free spender than the other, or if one has more trouble avoiding overdrafts and/or tapping out accounts well in advance of payday.

Joint accounts have the advantage of keeping funds in a single bucket which is statistically easier to keep above zero compared to stretching funds across two or more accounts. And joint accounts by definition require the couple to work together as a team to manage spending. But many couples, especially early on, aren’t entirely ready to cede “control” over their paychecks. Overall, it’s an area ripe for disagreements and resentment.

That’s why we love Simple’s best-of-both-worlds solution, the Simple Shared plan which offers 3 accounts: an individual spending account for each person, along with a joint account for the pair. While that’s a great foundation, it still doesn’t address the day-to-day communications necessary to keep both partners on the same page.

Enter the newest PFM player, HoneyDue (formerly WalletIQ), currently toiling away in Y Combinator’s summer class (S17). After a stint as one of Apple’s favorite apps in May, the company already has 20,000 registered users, 60% of which are female. The app debuted on Product Hunt two days ago, and was the most popular product of the day (currently 820 upvotes) and so far is fifth highest of the week. You’ll be hearing more about them in two weeks when they officially debut at the incubator’s demo days (Aug 21-23).

HoneyDue uses Yodlee (probably) to aggregate transaction accounts across multiple FIs into one mobile app. Then it provides tools to make it easy to annotate expenses and communicate with each other about what they were.

Bottom line: Collaborative spending tools are an attractive account management option that absolutely should be offered by every bank, credit union, card issuer and PFM provider. HoneyDue is a good example of how the UI can work. And banks, consider joining the company’s seed round, if only as an R&D effort (strategic seed investing).

Feature Friday: Editing Transactions in Online/Mobile Banking

One basic feature missing from most online and mobile banking services is the ability to edit/annotate transactions. Some banks, BMO Harris for example, support transaction and/or category editing in their PFM modules. But it’s very rare to see it within basic digital banking.

One exception, is BBVA Compass’s Simple banking unit. Simple allows full editing of the transaction name, category, and goal. And users can add a memo and an attachment to individual transactions. Clicking on a transaction brings up the detail section along the right (see screenshot below). The feature is functional on the desktop, but it’s easier to use, and more robust, on a mobile phone where the built-in camera aids photo attachments. And the transaction is visually more appealing after editing on mobile (see After mobile screenshot).

Thoughts: While it’s a little harder to use than I’d like, it feels wrong to complain about UX issues at Simple, when the vast majority of FIs don’t allow any editing whatsoever. But my job is to whine, so I’ll make this suggestion. The best user experience is to edit directly within the transaction record rather than following commands over to the right. And on mobile, voice editing should be supported.

Bottom line: While Simple’s transaction editing may not quite live up to the digital banking pioneer’s name, it’s head and shoulders above the competition. And that’s no simple feat.

Transaction editing on the desktop

Step 1: Select transaction on left; if desired, change category (#1), or funding source (#2), then press “edit”

Step 2: Annotation options (1) Edit name, (2) Add memo, (3) Upload image, (4) Add location

Transaction editing on mobile

Before edits                                                             After edits
















Author: Jim Bruene is Founder & Senior Advisor to Finovate as well as
Principal of BUX Advisors, a financial services user-experience consultancy. 



Banking Opportunity: Synced Joint Accounts

simple shared account

One thing we are looking forward to this year is the launch of Simple’s (part of BBVA) Simple Shared checking account. When the beta was announced last September (2016) and the company said it would be launching “some time in 2017.” See screenshots above.

The account promises to help users track their individual purchases, while also maintaining a shared transaction area and goal(s) that includes an Our Safe-to-Spend number across both users. Users would be able to simply transfer money to each other as well. And interestingly, it appears that any two people (and maybe more?) will be able to sync their Simple accounts together, it won’t have to be an actual legal joint account. That’s exactly how it should be.

Innovating in the Deposit Business
The deposit business is relatively straightforward. There are checking accounts, debit cards, and savings accounts (most paying a negligible amount of interest). So how does a bank differentiate itself in this absurdly low interest-rate environment? Branding, trust and location have been the traditional drivers and are still vital. And every decade or so a new technology comes along and there is some jostling along the way until everyone offers it (ATMs, VRUs, debit cards, online banking, mobile banking, etc.).

But even in a world where every FI offers the same basic product lineup, there are still ways to add value and increase market share and/or margins. Synced joint accounts, like Simple’s Shared Account. Married couples are the biggest opportunity, but there are other segments as well: Parents that need to sync with their kids. adults that need to sync with their aging parents, employers with employees, advisors with their clients, and so on.

There has been progress on this front. Many (most?) business accounts offer ways to enable third-party accountant/advisor access. Person-to-person transfers make it easy to send money to kids at college. And PFM solutions such as Mint, allow money-tracker couples to keep an eye on their spending across multiple accounts.

Bottom line: Existing solutions are often difficult to use, missing key features, and not fully integrated within big-name financial brands. Simple, which already offers a state-of-the-art checking account with Safe to Spend balance forecasting, natural-language search, and overall great UI, is expected to raise the bar considerably when Shared Accounts launches. I look forward to using it.

Author: Jim Bruene is Founder & Senior Advisor to Finovate as well as
Principal of BUX Advisors, a financial services UX consultancy. 

Simple’s Annual Disclosure Will Be the Only One You’ll Read This Year


When it comes to annual disclosures from financial services companies, I’ll be honest—I never read them. When they arrive as direct mail, I shred them. When they arrive in digital form, I file the unopened email into a folder.

All of this changed last week when I received an email from BBVA-owned Simple (FF11) titled Lint, floss, Regulation E. (Required legalese inside). Here’s how the email began:

Today’s the wonderful day! We’re legally required—and freely excited—to send you these very important Annual Disclosures of Regulation E Guidelines for Electronic Fund Transfers and Privacy Practices.

Encouraging expressions motivate readers to continue, saying, “Don’t sleep too soon!” and “Let go your reluctance!” Following these energy-inducing phrases, the email launches into “lines of regulatory poetry,” otherwise known as Regulation E, (a siren song to fraud).

To reward users for reaching the end of the disclosures, the email concludes with a “Museum of the Mundane.” In case you aren’t a Simple customer and don’t have the luxury of reading the most entertaining regulatory disclosure email ever created, here are the features from the “Museum:”





Simple concludes the entertaining email with mundane wishes:

Give thanks, Julie! Today’s a bigger day than you thought. Pull out a blanket, pop some champagne, and gather your friends for a reading of this caring, protective, regulatory gift. Regulation E! Yes, please!

There you have it. From Team Simple to you and yours, bidding you mundane wishes this holiday season.

Finovate Alumni News

On Finovate.com

  • Nutmeg Closes $14.6 Million Series D Round”

Around the web

  • Taulia reaches supply chain finance into aerospace sector.
  • The New York Times highlights Credit Karma and Mint.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Fintech Favorites



  • Mastercard (FD14) launches its developer portal (again). Having originally launched its dev platform in 2010, Mastercard this week announced an expansion of its platform that provides third-party developers single-location access to more than 25 updated APIs in categories such as payments, data, security, and financial inclusion. The platform also features an experimental category with APIs for bot commerce (think chatbots, VR, and augmented reality), and developers will be able to use six different coding languages (Java, Javascript, C#, Ruby, Python, and Node.js).

Mastercard says it has seen a 4x increase in API usage in 2016, which encouraged the company to expand its portal to include open APIs for all of its products. “The APIs are built to be open, flexible and available through a single doorway,” SVP for APIs at Mastercard Oran Cummins told ComputerWorld. “It’s our front door and we’ve been cranking up the volume on this.”

If the latest dev news is at the top of your daily agenda, then join us October 18 & 19 for FinDEVr Silicon Valley 2016. Our developers conference features two days of the latest in developer tools, platform, and case studies, along with hours of high-caliber networking with fintech developers, VPs of engineering, CTOs, and more. Visit our registration page and pick up your ticket today.


  • Look out London! A new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) suggests that Singapore’s fintech industry could be a major beneficiary of rising regulatory restrictions and political uncertainty in the U.S. and Europe. “Singapore … is benefiting from a supportive regulatory framework and extremely high digital capacity, which means there is a potential for her to become the regional hub for Asia-Pacific and beyond,” said Joseph Alfred, head of policy and technical, ACCA Singapore.
  • Manulife unveils new “Lab of Forward Thinking” location in Singapore. This is Manulife’s third location (the other two are in Boston and Toronto). “We are using emerging technologies and platforms such as blockchain and artificial intelligence to build competitive advantages,” Greg Framke, EVP and CIO for Manulife said.
  • Mastercard launches its first B2B mobile app to connect small business buyers and suppliers in Hong Kong: the Mastercard Commercial Network App. Hang Chong, Mastercard’s division president for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, said, “Small and medium sized businesses are the lifeblood of a thriving economy. To maximize the success of these enterprises, we will continue to innovate and develop a broad range of solutions that address evolving business needs.”
  • And speaking of Hong Kong, don’t forget that FinovateAsia 2016 will be in Hong Kong, November 8th. For more information, check out our FinovateAsia registration page.


  • “Gimme That Old Time Navigation!” Mobile UI takes a look at Capital One Wallet and its new, old-school user interface


  • Samsung Pay celebrates its first anniversary in the U.S.
  • Under PayPal (F12), Braintree (FD16) transactions grew 25x.
  • Dash is the first digital currency to cooperate with a blockchain-compliance platform.


  • Monzo integrates with Siri on iOS to enable sending and receiving money using voice commands.