The Sun Sets On Simple

Established in 2009 and commercially launched in 2012, Simple set a new standard for personal banking.

Customers of Simple, a subsidiary of BBVA USA, received an email in January announcing the closure of the pioneering digital-only bank, bought by BBVA in 2014 for $117 million.

Simple’s closure was triggered by BBVA’s recent sale of its US business to PNC Bank. Integration challenges with BBVA gave competitors the opportunity to catch up with the original neobank. Given that PNC bought BBVA for its traditional banking footprint, it isn’t surprising that the expensive integration of the unprofitable Simple isn’t part of the deal.

“Simple was clearly one of the early fintechs to be launched and was ahead of its time with a very successful launch. To continue its growth strategy Simple needs a lot of management attention, apart from an infusion of cash to take it to the next level,” says Sankar Krishnan, executive vice president for Banking and Capital Markets with Capgemini. “It is entirely possible that PNC has an alternate strategy to grow their digital footprint—investing in mobile wallets, card products and online—and it would have been tough to have two approaches to their customers, from a strategy perspective.”

Established in 2009 and commercially launched in 2012, Simple set a new standard for personal banking, with appealing built-in budgeting and savings tools to help customers put aside money for the things they need and spend responsibly on the things they want. Simple helped reinvent user experience, and its influence has changed consumer banking for the better.

BBVA has announced that Simple customers will migrate to the BBVA USA mobile app and become PNC customers upon the close of the acquisition. The closure of Simple creates opportunities for US neobanks Chime and Varo, as well as European neobanks operating in the US, such as Revolut, Monzo and N26.