Bankbuddy-in-your-pocket company BankSimple, has the chance of becoming a consumer banking powerhouse. Looking at their offer, it is, in short:
1. We respect you - no hidden fees
2. We're always by your side - mobile banking in your pocket
3. We will service you the way you want - real people solving problems fast
On the content side, one interesting feature is that they help you calculate how much you can spend safely at any given moment - without jeopardizing your mortgage payments etc. However nifty this is, it is not the most interesting thing about BankSimple.
The really interesting thing about BankSimple is that it has almost zero infrastructure (other than their own servers) and are hence able to keep the recurring costs very low - still being able to provide a full set of banking services for the customers.
Their idea is to become the intermediary between banking services providers and the consumers. BankSimple provides the service interface and partners up with existing banking services providers. This is where Visa, Bancorp Bank and CBW Bank comes into the picture with their banking infrastructure as well as investors in BankSimple (press release). It makes sense, Visa being payments anywhere and BankSimple aiming at becoming banking anywhere. They have also managed to partner up with Allpoint ATM's - so it's not a just another online bank.
So where does this end up? My take is that if we use the hypothesis that they are able to round-up half a million customers (I believe 100 000 is sufficient though) they will become a real bankbuddy - negotiating mortgage agreements on behalf of their total customer base on the global financial market. We've seen the same development within other commodities, for example consumer power supply, where intermediaries (swedish example) sits on a vast consumer base and invites suppliers for reversed auctions of tens-of-thousands contracts in each auction.
Unless the traditional retail banks have the strategy of merely becoming B2B financial services providers - I would say it's high time to start developing and offering excellent consumer services across the board. Otherwise BankSimple and their copies-to-come will most likely steal your customers and then sell the back to you...at your expense.