Paul Williams

March 5, 2021

Banks Should Be More Exciting, Feature-Rich & Advanced

As I noted in my other writing space, January 7th brought disappointing news to an enthusiastic group of bank users in the US -- Simple, a clever fintech banking experience, informed users that it was closing shop. The email was blunt, pointing to BBVA USA (the current back-end housing Simple's deposits) as having "made the strategic decision to close Simple". 

Simple was the best kind of finance experience -- something you wanted to open up, manage money in, and get out -- seamlessly. It treated banking like the great user experience we deserved. Dealing with money and budgets was fun, smart, and effective.

Long story short, there are a lot of traditional banks still peddling the same, age-old shit experience, and there are dozens of new, shiny ones peddling basically the same feature sets sitting atop  slightly different business models (make money off debit card transactions instead of the myriad  "banking fees"). The problem is that these new experiences are a lot of gloss and little substance, and none of them meet the absurdly high standards of Simple.

A lot of us have been looking elsewhere. One Reddit user even compiled a comprehensive comparison list of several alternative "neo-banks" and fintech software layers to traditional banking as a way to investigate an alternative to Simple.

While several of these look promising, I took the dive with One Finance. You read my initial assessment here. What I'd like to state now is how it's going nearly two months in. Since I opened an account, I've had several direct deposits from my salaried paycheck drop in (it truly does come a few days early due to the way they pull the trigger quicker than normal banks' ACH acceptance + transfer), have created a handful of Pockets (their version of envelope-budgeting), and set up payment structures with utility companies and investing firms where credit card payments don't work.

What I like:

  • Pockets. Simple, but also complex envelope-budgeting. You can share them with any other One user, and each one also has a unique account number, meaning you can securely share these with various companies you want to pull money from without risking security exploits or access to your entire account's funds.
  • Savings. A savings account with 1% APY (at this time) is unheard of. And the way the auto-savings works (a separate account for 3% APY with a max contribution of 10% of all direct deposits) is both a brilliant way to encourage and retaining savings habits, but also an incredible savings rate up to $25K). 
  • Engagement. The team has been highly active on social media and answering thorough questions and feedback on One Finance's subreddit. It's a promising sign from an early start-up.
  • The team behind it. Ex-Azlo/Simple folks are contributing, and there have been initial promises that One won't face the same fate as Simple with a sell-off to a large national bank. 🤞

What I don't like (but know will probably be solved for in their roadmap):

  • Lack of transaction search. [I'm using Monarch in the interim.]
  • Barbaric recurring transfer feature (monthly or every week/two weeks just don't cut it for how this should work – Astra does a superior job of acknowledging a deposit amount and moving xx or xx% to a designated place. One will be brilliant when they implement this)
  • Lack of two-factor authentication. 
  • Lack of check depositing (granted, it’s coming soon). 
  • One's longevity. Too soon to guess. Who knows how it'll turn out.

Overall, I'm pleased with the switch and look forward to its future. They've already made good on a number of short-term roadmap promises. Here's a raised glass to them rounding out the feature set this year.

If you're interested in giving One a shot, try it via either of these links:

Affiliate Link (if you're inclined -- you'll get $50 after an initial $250+ direct deposit set-up)