Alex Payne, One of Twitter’s First Employees, Deposits Himself at Banksimple

One of Twitter’s earliest employees joins a startup intent on simplifying the way you bank.



With what must be the best motto in the history of banking–“Don’t Suck”–banksimple has announced its forthcoming arrival onto the online financial scene by luring a key member to its team. Alex Payne waved goodbye to his job as API lead at Twitter to become the bank’s Chief Product & Technology Officer.

Online personal finance has proven to be a difficult business to master. Witness the fall of FiLife
last month. has not seen a significant increase in unique visitors since it
sold to Intuit for $170 million in September. Thrive was sold to Lending Tree in February of 2009 in a rumored fire sale. And Geezeo dropped its consumer facing service in January. And while online banking works, for the most part, no one raves about innovation in that space.

But the optimism of Payne’s vision of banksimple is, it has to be said, contagious.
“Imagine, for a moment, a bank that doesn’t suck,” he writes on his
. “A bank that doesn’t gouge you with fees. A bank that doesn’t
treat you like crap. A bank that cares about design, but gets out of
your way. A bank that puts your money to work automatically. A bank
that’s building a platform for the future of personal finance.”

Simplification is the key, as the name suggests. No overdraft fees,
no complicated products with costs hidden inside them, just a single
card which allows the banksimple clients to use it for checking, saving,
rewards, and credit. Checks are deposited via a mobile app after you’ve used your camera phone to snap them–although there are other institutions using this method already, such as the USAA’s bank. Other banks’ ATMs can be used countrywide without a charge, and banksimple will recommend value-added services to individuals by analyzing your private data. In keeping with the institutions it’s hoping to shake up, there’s still a huge amount of opacity, but banksimple’s FAQs shed a little more light on the venture.

Payne is not the first guy from Twitter to be seduced by the idea of changing the way personal finance works. Remember Jack Dorsey and his Square credit card reader for smartphones? It’s another system that streamlines and simplifies a complicated system that often gouges its customers.

As yet, there is no launch date for banksimple, although it’s expected to be sometime before the end of 2010, and it will be America-only for starters.

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S