Let’s start with a simple mistake that I made today: I disparaged a company that many people were curious about, as it opens its beta, without qualifying my issue.
After three weeks with my Simple card, I’m abandoning it. The benefits absolutely don’t outweighs the problems. Sticking with Chase + Mint.— Matt Galligan (@mg) August 10, 2012
Subsequently, I got a bunch of replies that looked like the following:
— Neil Robertson (@NeilRobertson) August 10, 2012
@mg what are some of the problems you’ve been having? I was thinking about Simple…
I realized that my seemingly innocuous was actually pretty harmful. Here I was, qualifying my use of a product for around three weeks (enough to test something), and then disparaging it without a definitive reason. That’s the equivalent of saying “this thing sucks” and when asked why, you just respond with “it just does”. So my advice before I get into my explanation is this: don’t do what I did.
Ok, now on to Simple.
Simple (formerly BankSimple) has been around in a private beta for over two years now. Here’s a funding announcement on TechCrunch. Their original value proposition according to TechCrunch was “…to simplify people’s financial lives by giving them a modern Web interface and realtime data linked to their accounts.” Sounds great! This demo video was posted almost a year ago, and the experience that I had with today’s product has been largely the same.
Now, fast forward to a few weeks ago. They opened up their private beta to more people and thus, I was very excited to receive my Simple Visa card. I fervently set up the account and was excited to change most of my day-to-day transactions to that account. Setting up required me to transfer some money in to the account, which took a few days. Additionally, I changed my salary’s direct deposit to also hit the Simple account, so all in all I had a good amount of money flowing through.
My conclusion came to this: I think Simple will be a fantastic product for plenty of people. I’m just not sure it’s ready for prime time with consumers like me.
I have what I feel like is a pretty basic setup. I have a checking account, savings, and a travel rewards credit card that I use regularly and pay off each month. Historically I’ve done this all through Chase and haven’t had a poor experience with it thus far. Additionally, I use Mint to track my spending habits, as well as watch for trends and control my budgets. They make it really easy to see all of my Chase Bank accounts, as well as accounts I’ve had before, along with stuff like my retirement account. When I added my Simple account to my life, I wasn’t quite sure where it should fit. So I did what they told me to do: use it like any other bank account and run your day-to-day spending through it. The premise was that it would be a nicer interface and less “hassle” than my regular bank.
The interface that Simple provides is definitely nice. It’s clean and basic without a lot of frills. For anyone that’s coming from a standard online banking interface, this is truly a godsend. But for anyone coming from their experience with Mint + a “normal” bank, there’s really not much gained. In fact, there’s a lot of things that Simple doesn’t do when compared to Mint (like trends, graphs on spending habits, respecting changing the name/category of a merchant over time, etc.). Beyond the interface, I found transferring money in and out of the account to be a bit of a pain. That’s in contrast to just using the transfer function within my bank’s website or mobile app, and the money is there in seconds, not days.
On top of all of the above, Mint doesn’t work with Simple yet. This was a huge pain, as it then made it much harder to track my money across all accounts. So between the speed of transferring money in and out, lack of features on Simple’s online interface, and the fact that my money was basically sitting with a bank that I had no relationship with (they use Bancorp as their banking partner), it just didn’t seem like the benefits benefits outweighed the detriments for my use.
Having said all of the above, I do think that Simple is still a great product and will work plenty fine for some people. Maybe those with less accounts to worry about, like a credit card, or someone that’s fine with the web interface they provide. They did have one pretty nice feature where they were able to determine the amount of tip that you left on a transaction. I think that’s pretty killer.
But aside from my mini-review, I hope my top-most comment can be a lesson. It’s not right to go out there and rain on someone’s parade without any reasons or justification. The people on the receiving end need to see the criticism (so long as it’s constructive), because it might lead to them producing a better product. I especially want to apologize to my friends that work at Simple and anyone connected to them, because my comments were hasty and without regard to my lack of constructive criticism.