What a difference a year makes: Simple recounts its first year with customers on the platform

Portland-based Simple has a very lofty goal: to build a better banking experience. Or to be more blunt: to build a bank that doesn’t suck. And after a year with customers using the platform, Simple appears well on their way to satisfying that goal.

CEO and cofounder of Simple, Josh Reich, recounted some of the company’s accomplishments over the last year:

We started this business with the idea that we could make money by providing an honest service that helped people spend smarter and save more, free from of the pitfalls that are typical for our industry. We believed that, by focusing on a great product and great service, we could build a business that not only does good, but also does well.

One year is a big milestone for any company—and that goes doubly for us, as a startup working to disrupt a heavily-regulated and historically static industry. In addition to building a service that helps our customers spend smarter and save more, we’ve maintained a team and culture that’s focused on continuous innovation. It’s fair to say we’re future-minded: we spend a lot of time thinking about how banking should look in 2, 5, 10, or 20 years.

Some of the stats are pretty impressive—and equally impressive is Simple’s transparency:

  • More than a quarter of a million people have requested access to Simple. Forty thousand have access.
  • Simple is processing more than $1 billion worth of transactions
  • More than two million card swipes have been recorded
  • Customers have more than $100 million in savings

Team Simple ca. July 2013

But it hasn’t all been rosy in the Rose City. Josh shared a few of Simple’s missteps with VentureBeat, too:

His biggest regret for the first year? Not offering check depositing via the company’s mobile apps at the beginning. (The feature was eventually added late last July.) As Reich tells it, he personally found checks “so bizarre” that he was hoping to push users away from them—but of course, that’s an extraordinarily lofty goal for a small startup.

After four years of planning, Reich noted that the company also over-prepared in one key area. “We went to a lot of effort to build the largest fee-free ATM network in America, but our customers aren’t really using it,” he said.

It’s actually a good sign that Simple’s ATM network is being underused—it proves that the company’s big bet on providing extensive financial data to consumers is paying off. (If you pay for something with cash, it doesn’t get neatly added into your Simple account. You have to enter it by hand.)

And what about the decision to shutter its Brooklyn headquarters in favor of a move to Portland?

“It’s been phenomenal for us,” Josh told GeekWire. “A big part of our success comes down to the personal human level of customer service, and Portland has a great talent pool for that. People share our morals and really want to build fantastic careers around what we do. It’s hard to find that in other cities.”

For more, read Josh’s blog post on the first year for customers on Simple.

(Simple team image courtesy of Simple)