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Simple: A New Way to Bank

Think a small startup can’t disrupt a deep-seated, regulation-protected, mammoth industry? Think again. The New York Times recently featured a small financial startup called Simple, which bills itself as “A Worry-Free Alternative to Traditional Banking.” (I’d love to know how much they paid to secure Simple.com!)

Who hasn’t cursed their bank multiple times? Who hasn’t worried over this, that, or the other penalty, fee, or ridiculous hoop your bank makes you jump through? Praise Simple founders Josh Reich and Shamir Karkal for tackling a piece of the market most entrepreneurs would shy away from. But like Steve Jobs, the pain and dissatisfaction with the current solution drove them to try to change the world.

“Get ready to leave your bank,” says Simple’s website. Why would anyone do that? Because there’s a lot to like about Simple, at least on paper. The value proposition is, er, simple: clarity in your finances, unmatched security and support, all in the palm of your hand.

Simple is by invitation only, at least right now, and without an account (which I do not have), I can only go on what the site promises in screens shots, like these.

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But what you walk away from in taking a quick tour through Simple’s user-friendly website is that everything is designed to be “at a glance.” You don’t have to hunt and peck, you don’t have to wade through data, you don’t have to get stuck in automated voice hell, and you don’t have to spend time figuring out what you really need to know: how much can I safely spend? What category of expenses does this fall into? What payments are coming up? Can I get a real person to chat with me NOW?

Simple provides all that, through your smartphone. Simple is fee-free, you can pay anyone via the mobile app, you can deposit checks via a photo, and you can rest easy that things are safe and secure. And here’s the kicker: Simple isn’t actually a bank. Your money isn’t in a Simple vault, real or virtual. It’s held by partner banks, CBW and Bancorp.

So if you’re an brave entrepreneur pulling your hair out in life-critical, painful experiences at the hands of powerful, entrenched, big-industry players with lots of regulation and protection–say, like buying a car, or getting medical care quickly and easily–you might just want to go to school on Simple, subtract the unnecessary, add the meaningful, and make the world a better place.