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Simple bank is shutting down

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BBVA-owned Simple has announced that it is shutting down. The popular online-only bank offered features like a smart budgeting “goals” system and a very high savings interest rate — back when high interest rates were a thing. However, BBVA has decided it’s time to sunset Simple, and more information regarding the transition to servicing by BBVA directly will be available soon.

The news is being emailed to Simple’s customers, though not everyone has received it just yet. Relevant details are included below:

We have an update for you about your banking relationship with Simple, a subsidiary of BBVA USA.

BBVA USA has made the strategic decision to close Simple. There is no immediate impact to your accounts at Simple and nothing you need to do at this time. Since your deposits are already housed at BBVA USA, they will remain in FDIC insured accounts there, up to the applicable limits. In the future, your Simple account will become exclusively serviced by BBVA USA, but until then you can continue to access your account and your money through the Simple app or online at simple.com. You will receive additional information in the near future about the transition of your account servicing to BBVA USA.

We want to assure you that we are committed to making this transition as smooth as possible for you, and that we will provide ongoing transparent and open communication, so you know what to expect each step of the way.

Our customer services agents will not be able to address questions about this announcement at this time. We will contact you proactively as we have more details. Please only contact customer support for your regular banking needs.

Thank you for being a Simple customer, it’s been an honor to serve you.

— The Team at Simple

As stated in the email, customer money isn’t going anywhere, and accounts remain FDIC insured. This also will have no effect on stimulus payments or other deposits.

The plan is to transition Simple account holders over to BBVA servicing — as in, Simple customers will become direct BBVA customers and switch to using that bank’s cards and account portals. Until then, all your Simple stuff, including the site, app, and debit card, should continue to work. Interestingly, Simple’s site still has a page for customers to apply for an account.

BBVA has owned simple since 2014. Last year, Simple’s app picked up support for the Pixel 4’s face unlock biometrics, and in 2019 it got Samsung Pay support. Many of us remember the long wait for Simple to support Android (now Google) Pay, which was frustrating given Google recommended Simple as a replacement for Google Wallet when it died.

Simple’s closure is at least partly related to BBVA’s sale of its US subsidiary to PNC late last year, though it may also be a simpler result of BBVA cutting out loss leaders as it balances its books. While Simple might seem successful among our audience, that isn’t necessarily an indicator of success in the larger market.

We reached out to Simple for more information regarding the shutdown, and were provided with the following statement:

BBVA USA continually evaluates strategic priorities and resources, including existing and potential partnerships with outside organizations. We have taken the opportunity of the pending merger with PNC to reassess our goals for BBVA USA, so that we’re focused on the things that make the most sense for the company’s future whether on a standalone basis or a potentially combined basis with PNC. As a result, today we’re accelerating some changes and stopping work on others, including the closing of Simple. These reviews are part of our normal processes, and have resulted in other ventures being closed in the past year or so based on performance and the economic environment, including Covault (2020) and Denizen (2019).

Simple customers already have a dual relationship with BBVA USA and Simple. We will be migrating these customers to the award-winning BBVA USA mobile app. Those same customers will become PNC customers upon the close of acquisition, which is subject to customary closing conditions. As part of BBVA USA, Simple customers will have access to a much broader suite of products and services, alongside the bank’s award-winning mobile app, which includes BBVA Financial Tools.

Whatever the precise cause, the effect is clear, and Simple is closing its all-digital doors.

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