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What is Bank Simple?

image There’s a new “banking entity” in formation, Brooklyn, NY-based Bank Simple operating (temporarily I assume) at the .net version of its name <>. I chatted with the founders, Josh Reich and Shamir Karkal earlier this year and am anxiously awaiting more info on the launch.

From reading its trademark application, website, and blog, I have a feeling Bank Simple will launch as a banking front-end (eg. Mint, Obopay), and not as an actual bank. Given the market’s (and Washington’s) appetite for startup banks right now, they may have little choice. But who knows where they go from there. It sounds like they want tight control over the user experience, so they may eventually need to be a bank.

But from their FAQs and a few tidbits found through deep Googling, it sounds like Bank Simple will be much more than web-based software. Initially, it is launching a card-based service with combined debit/credit and rewards built in (de-coupled debit again?). Here’s what they say in the About section:

We will launch later this year with a simple card with in built checking, savings, rewards and a line of credit. As we add more competitive banking services, you can personalize your features as your needs change.

Bank Simple talks about customer service (answering the phone), taking deposits by mail (and this is a rumor, by mobile remote deposit) and other traditional banking activities. So that is much more than an online PFM (can we agree to call that OFM?).

They made the tech press this week when they added a new co-founder, Alex Payne, one of early engineers at Twitter. So expect streaming information, ala Blippy and Swipely, and social networking to be a crucial part of the mix.

The startup is looking for summer marketing interns, but there are no permanent jobs posted, another reason to believe they will not be operating a full-blown bank in the near term.

It sounds like a good plan. Marry the utility of PayPal with user experience of ING Direct. Throw in a little Mint-like design and some Twitter hype, and it’s a VC’s dream. 

Bank Simple’s pre-launch placeholder homepage (18 May 2010)
Note: Site is in closed beta, request an invitation through the “join” button


Note: In Online Banking Report, we have written about creating a virtual bank, sans the charter, several times in the past 15 years. The most recent full report was in Oct. 2000, Creating the of Financial Services. But we updated the tables (now called Creating the Facebook of Financial Services) last year in our 2010 Planning Guide.