Simple, the minimal-in-a-trendy-way financial startup, was positioned to revolutionize the banking industry. It planned to do so by removing all the traditional fees and hassles one might encounter using Chase or Bank of America. An ethos focused on user convenience informed all of Simple’s design from the ground up, from its slick mobile app to its easy-to-search purchase history.
But ever since it was acquired by Spain’s second-largest bank, BBVA, back in February for $117 million cash, we haven’t heard too much about Simple, or how it’s doing. Until today, that is, when we found out just how many people use it for their banking needs thanks to, of all things, a confidential email sent to the wrong person.
That magic user count? As of March, Simple had a mere 33,387 active customers.
Quartz has the scoop. And soon after the story was published, Simple CEO Joshua Reich published his own blog post. According to the slides obtained in the presentation, “customer acquisition is slower than expected” while “deposits per customer are growing slower than expected.”
Simple, which was founded in 2009 and originally called BankSimple, had around 20,000 customers in January of 2013. Although it solves a lot of the headaches associated with traditional banking, transferring the bulk of your financial life and moving over to a new checking account presents its own kind of migraine.
While the leaked financials don’t paint an entirely a grim portrait, there is something to be said about usership as a metric for company health. Simple, though, does appear to be in full-on damage-control mode. “To date, most of our customers have joined Simple via word of mouth, hearing from friends and family and the great things that our customers say online,” wrote Reich. “I’m incredibly proud that we’ve built a service our customers are passionate about and am humbled that their support led to 330% growth last year.”
“This year,” he added, “we’re excited to begin expanding our marketing efforts, experimenting with paid channels to broaden our customer reach.”