Online banking service Simple is today rolling out a new product: shared accounts. However, unlike joint checking accounts typically shared by spouses, Simple’s shared accounts work differently. They allow customers to maintain their own accounts, but quickly fund then switch over to shared accounts to collaborate with each other on financial planning by tracking shared expenses, setting goals, and keeping an eye on the shared account’s “safe-to-spend” balance, which includes the money not already committed to bill payments and savings.
Because customers continue to have their own individual bank account, Simple Shared can be used by anyone who needs to combine their money, including not only those in relationships, but also roommates, siblings, or even parents and their young adult children.
With Simple Shared, Simple is looking to change the way people handle shared finances.
First of all, the sign-up process for a Shared account is very quick, compared with traditional banking. To get started, the two users just link their individual accounts together, and a shared account is created in seconds.
It has also rethought account access. Instead of logging in and out of the different accounts, customers can quickly switch between their individual and shared accounts, with just a few taps.
Plus, like individual accounts, Simple Shared accounts offer access to the same feature set, which includes the ability to set savings goals, track your available balance, pay bills, and fund through direct deposits, if desired.
It also comes with its own Visa card and doesn’t charge any fees. Unfortunately, like individual accounts, the interest rate remains low – only 0.01% – but Simple tells us this will change in the future.
What’s most interesting is where the product fits in today’s broader financial landscape, Simple Shared isn’t only a competitor to traditional joint accounts, but also to quick money transfer services like Venmo or Square Cash. That’s because you can move money in between your own account and the shared account instantly.
So while Venmo might come in handy for splitting the bill at a restaurant, Simple Shared accounts may be better for more things like paying bills with your roommates, given that it’s a real bank account either person can access in order to view, manage, and analyze their shared spending and savings.
Simple, as you may recall, had originally made a name for itself by ditching fees and modernizing the interfaces customers use to interact with their bank accounts, including on mobile, before being acquired by BBVA, where it still operates independently as its own brand. However, post-acquisition, the service had been slow to deliver on its earlier promises of making banking easy – it flubbed its biggest upgrade, for example, and continued to suffer glitches months after the fact.
However, in the years since, Simple has recovered and stabilized, even if it was no longer steadily rolling out new features.
That said, the banking service has seen customer growth hit about 50% in the first half of the year, and says it has brought on more customers per month in the past few months than many banks do in a year. In addition, over the past year Simple says it grew by 120%, versus average growth for personal retail checking growth which is about 7% annually.
Simple Shared is launching today into beta, and will be adding users to a waitlist, as it expects demand.
The service will be available on both web and mobile.