February 28, 2017
by Derek Zumsteg

Launching Shared

After months of beta testing, 70 hours of research conversations with partners, and countless eager tweets from our customers, we’re making it official: today, Shared accounts are available.
Couple Smiling on sofa in front of photo wall

After months of beta testing, 70 hours of research conversations with partners, and countless eager tweets from our customers, we’re making it official: today, Shared accounts are available.

We built Shared to help partners feel confident with their money and (dare to) hope that it will be a bank account that helps relationships. We wanted to remove the confusion that comes with traditional accounts and give every type of partnership a clear view of how they’re spending and saving—together.

Our (cautiously optimistic) theory was that transparency could foster communication, and that those conversations would build trust and understanding—something that could be sustained and built on the longer you use the account. We know that 70% of Americans believe it’s rude or inappropriate to talk about finances in a social setting. That means it’s easy to feel uncomfortable when it comes time to merge lifestyles, living spaces, or romantic lives—how can we build trust when it comes to sharing money if we can’t even talk about it?

What we learned from our customers during the extended beta is that the “taboo of money” isn’t insurmountable. Because money decisions and life decisions aren’t so different.

Give ‘em something to talk about

Structurally, when you open a Shared account you’re making an intentional change to how you manage your financial life and proactively inviting a partner into it. Once opened, each partner has an individual account with seamless access back and forth into the Shared account, inviting more intentional discussion—how much do we transfer in? How often? How do we spend the money that’s in our Shared account?

Simple customers Caroline K. and Vincent W. opened a Shared beta account as they moved into a new apartment, living together for the first time. Hearing that 88% of young couples say financial decisions are a source of tension in their partnerships can make anyone feel like stress and frustration were inevitable. So, up until opening a Shared beta account, Caroline and Vincent hadn’t talked specifically about how they were going to pay bills or split expenses.

“It hasn’t been stressful. I expected it to be since it’s what the societal expectation of it is. To have a shared feeling of contributed and shared ownership over the things we bought—furniture, pieces of art we wanted—the Shared account made us feel like we were going in on new things together.” - Caroline K, Simple customer

Simple customers Caroline and Vincent Holding Hands under a bridge and smiling

It’s been so heartening to hear this from customers again and again—that Shared helped them bridge the communication gap between their money and their partnership. Caroline says that Shared helped them be respectful to each other’s priorities, agree on purchases, and make settling into a new place together immensely collaborative. Their new apartment is a home to both of them because they’ve been equal owners in the process and purchases.

With Shared, transparency isn’t a one-time transaction. The conversations customers have when starting their financial lives together are revisited the longer partners use the account, with help from the Simple features customers already know.

Every time you or your partner swipe your Shared card, you see a push Notification on your phone with the amount of the transaction and where it was made. We’ve heard stories from customers about how these Notifications make them feel more connected to their partners. Whether it’s getting a 1pm text from a spouse reminding them to step away from the keyboard for lunch or confirmation that it’s not too late to text and add “toilet paper” to the wish list because no grocery store transaction has gone through yet, we’re seeing these small touch points add up over time to build a more communicative team.

We’ve heard that Safe-to-Spend®—our take on the traditional account balance—and Goals—our budgeting and saving feature—help Shared customers change the way they manage their money together.

“It’s much easier to save money now that we’re using Shared accounts with Simple. Being able to set aside money for specific goals—for rent, for bills—is really helpful. Even something aspirational, just saving for the future, is that much easier when we can put a name and an amount to it.” - Vincent W., Simple customer

Benefits of beta

The beauty of a beta period is that while we were collecting this feedback on what worked for customers, we iterated real-time on the things that weren’t working. Take, for example, the way we differentiate between accounts.

We designed Shared so that partners get one account to share and two to use solo—by pairing individual accounts and Shared accounts together we could make managing finances more fluid than traditional, disconnected joint accounts. We rolled this unique account structure out with the educated assumption that Simple customers would want the two accounts to function the same—clean, uncluttered, streamlined.

We quickly heard from customers that the visual similarities between the accounts made it hard to track which account they were paying bills, transferring funds, or setting Goals from. This meant as our customers were entering a new phase in their relationships, they were hitting a (small but frustrating) blocker in seeing their finances clearly. Remember how the whole philosophy behind our account structure was to remove confusion and increase fluidity?

So we tweaked, added wording, redesigned, and made enhancements to make it abundantly clear which account you’re looking at, which card you’re managing, and how to switch between the two. Now our customers can be confident when managing both their individual and Shared money.

This extended beta also gave us the chance to scale—to build a smoother experience for each new group coming onto the product.

Account creation is a great example. Rather than having to go into a branch and set up an account in-person, Shared allowed folks to create an account digitally in minutes. The shortened timeframe was the right place to start, but in some cases, minutes still felt too long. Along the way we worked with our Engineering team to shave off delays, streamline the process, and get Shared account creation down to an average 48 seconds in the product that we’re launching today.

Go forth and share

We’ve heard the demand for Shared accounts since, well, the dawn of Simple. As excited as people have been to get this product, we’ve been as stoked to bring it to you. Much like our individual account, we learned along the way that banking didn’t need to look like a brand new thing, it just had to be rebuilt for the way you think.

Remember that to start a Simple Shared account, both partners need Simple accounts held by BBVA Compass (you can find the name of your partner bank on the back of your card or with your account info in the app). If your Simple account is backed by The Bancorp Bank, you’ll need to move it to BBVA Compass before you can start a Simple Shared account. By now, you should have heard from us about starting that process. If that doesn’t ring a bell, please do get in touch!

We’ll be looking at ways to improve and build out Shared moving forward. We can’t wait to learn how customers use the product, hear how Shared works for you, and see the impact it has on your lives.

Partners, Shared is ready for you. We hope it makes those “money talks” easier than ever.

Get Shared

Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Banking services are provided by Compass Bank and The Bancorp Bank; Members FDIC. BBVA Compass is a trade name of Compass Bank. Banking services associated with the Simple Shared account are available only through Compass Bank. Caroline and Vincent are Simple customers, and were not paid, bartered with, or bribed to appear in this post. Any outbound links in this post will take you away from Simple.com, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner banks, The Bancorp Bank and BBVA Compass, do not endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post.