Online start-up banksimple preps for US launch

Online start-up banksimple preps for US launch

A group of technology and banking veterans are seeking to take advantage of public disillusionment with financial services firms with the imminent launch of their own online offering, banksimple.

The project is led Josh Reich, the New York-based founder of data specialist i2pi, and includes a team of "technologists, former banking consultants and user experience people".

The start-up has been operating in the shadows, with no publicity, but earlier this month it began letting people request invites to join and, according to a recently introduced banksimple Twitter feed, is planning to launch in the first half of this year. The firm is not chartered but says its partners are.

On the banksimple Web site, Reich outlines its criticism of the competition, claiming: "We built BankSimple because we were disappointed with our banks and wanted something better. At our previous banks, simple things like paying bills, transferring money and keeping track of balances were a pain. They gave us complicated features to 'help' us manage our money, but they made them hard to use - perhaps because they earn so much from overdraft fees."

Banksimple says it offers a "better choice", using technology to provide a service that does not impose overdraft, transfer, minimum balance, or monthly, fees. All transactions can be conducted online or from smartphones.

Customers have a single account for checking, savings and credit, all from one card. The service also includes financial analysis tools and lets users import historical data from Mint, Wesabe, Quicken and Yodlee.

"We wanted to return to the simpler times of the community bank, but we also wanted a bank that was truly easy to use online. That's why we've created the first old-fashioned, simple, easy-to-use, no-fee online bank. It's not complicated, it's BankSimple," says Reich.

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