Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Simple's financial results last year. Josh Reich had said in an interview the company "made some money," but he did not mean it was profitable.
When Josh Reich managed growth equities at a small Wall Street investment firm in 2009, he could dip anytime into the portfolio of money he oversaw and grasp its comings and goings. Yet he never found the same clarity in his own bank statements. It was too hard, he said recently, to figure out why his bank charged fees for his checking and savings accounts or for his debit card. Writing checks seemed antiquated, when so much of commerce happened online. "There's a lot of innovation in finance, but not lots of things that help consumers," the 33-year-old Australian native said.
So, in February 2010, Reich and a friend started to envision the type of bank they would prefer to use — a bank built from scratch. It would dispense with unwarranted fees and — thanks to the engineer they lured from Twitter — offer snazzier designs for its Internet and mobile applications.
They called it BankSimple — now, simply Simple. Two years later, according to Reich, Simple serves 1,000 customers, a group small enough to test the company's fledgling systems, and has a waiting list that numbers more than 100,000. The company offers no storefront banking locations; nor does it actually hold any of its depositors' money. Instead, it partners with Bancorp Bank in Delaware to handle federally insured deposits, checking accounts, savings, and money transfers. Simple's 36 employees in Portland, Ore., concentrate on dealing with customers by using an active Twitter feed and service reps who try to engage potential depositors and answer questions promptly.