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Simple: Is the future of banking your smartphone?

A screen shot from the website Simple

In today's world, the banking experience is completely rebuilt. Long gone are the days of driving up to a window and getting a real live teller to help you cash your check.

Some big banks are replacing tellers with ATMs, while some people are avoiding banks completely, instead going to payday lenders and check cashiers.

But another route? Technology.

Simple is a tech company started by Josh Reich and Shamir Karkal that hopes to eliminate the hassle associated with traditional banks. "We think of ourselves really as a branchless banking service," says Reich. Customers get a card and access to ATMs, he explains, but "what we really do is provide customers with an informative web and mobile experience."

All customers of Simple must have a smartphone, Reich says. "We knew from day one that people's wallets were right next to their phones, and we wanted to close the information loop," he says. If you don't own an iOS or Android device, you can't access Simple. 

What about the dangers of getting hacked?

"We take security very seriously, and the mobile phone allows us to be even more secure," he says. A mobile phone allows the company to provide services that traditional banks only give to their high-end clients, like multi-factoral authentication.

He says that they are able to reduce costs because of their technology.

"If you look at banking technology in 1990, it used to cost a bank around $250 a year in technology costs just to keep an account around. In 2010, that cost was still $250. Banks have invested so little in technology that they haven't been able to reap any of the cost savings." 

Cost savings that, hopefully, could be passed on to the consumer.

About the author

Carmen Wong Ulrich is the former host of Marketplace Money, APM’s weekend personal finance program.

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