Banking as a platform: coming soon with BankSimple

New website, recruitments, preview of Ipad app: BankSimple is on a roll recently; but for me the most important piece of news was the announcement of the BankSimple API.

We’ll be launching an API for use by third-party developers in conjunction with the release of our initial user-facing web and mobile products. We intend the API to support everything that users can do with BankSimple, including retrieving transaction information, transferring funds, and more.

And perhaps even more important, from Joshua Reich on the BankSimple API Google group:

We’ve spent the last year thinking about these issues, but we’d love to hear
your input. Our business model isn’t pageview driven. We want our customers
to own their own data and use it in ways we could never imagine. We want to
support a rich ecosystem of 3rd party applications that make banking better,
while respecting the privacy of our customers.

Now, if you look at your current banking experience, what can you do with your financial data? At best, you can access it from another service (say Mint) which will reformat it to make it more useful for you. THAT’S IT… (if you know of other uses cases, please put them in comment)

On the contrary, the BankSimple API will allow banking to move toward a platform business model, with several stacks of services, as described by Sean Park in this post

The new industrial stack.

I am not a developer and I have most probably a limited understanding of the discussions around the BankSimple API but however I quickly came up with a couple of potential apps/services:

– Kids account application, making a user friendly kid money management application (a la Bobber) with a parental side (warning, kill switch, account allocation, spending limits etc…)

– Live widget dashboard with real time information for the account balance paranoid 😉

– Browser plugin providing balance reminders/advice when doing online transactions. A natural extension of the price comparison plugin, it will provide you with detailed information of your balance and perhaps an overview of the transaction impact on your budget (by type, buying movie tickets would be deduced from the entertainment allocation)

– Family account structure: a single account with annoted transactions to define who is “responsible” for the transaction. For the couples who want a single account but also would like to flag exceptional one sided spending.

– Ability to transfer account management to third party applications. Think automated money managers, with a set of activities per applications allowed by BankSimple, which cannot be overridden (no withdrawal, outside transfers for example)

For BankSimple, a rich ecosystem would make it attractive for new clients and probably help compensate the strong position of their competitors. Since their revenue will depend (even if partially) on the number of their clients/accounts(?), it will drive growth. For application developers/entrepreneurs, it’s a new ecosystem, with no existing equivalent and a huge potential to build value added services (revenue sharing model?).

What do you think could be built around the BankSimple API?

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