Start-ups try their hand at simplification

Posted on Jan 22, 2013 in Finance, Healthcare, Plain Language Blog Articles

Simple Credit CardA recent article in the New York Times profiled Josh Reich, a software engineer and founder of Simple, a new online banking start-up. The company has joined the growing ranks of start-ups disrupting business as usual in the banking and health care industries.

“Banks make money by keeping customers confused,” Mr. Reich said. In response, Simple and others are hoping to attract customers with… clarity. Simple lets customers search their accounts with plain English commands like “Show me how much I spent on dinner last month in Portland,” or “Show me how much money I spent on gifts in December.” Customers can see transactions plotted on a map or search for all transactions in a particular state or country, something that would be difficult with a traditional bank.

In the world of health care, start-ups like CakeHealth and Simplee are attracting a similar set of customers seeking clarity in their health insurance expenses. The apps allow users to manage medical bills and track out-of-pocket expenses. Both services will cross-check your bills against your plan, explaining why a claim wasn’t fully covered. These tools make it easy to tell if your policy is not a good fit, if your providers over-charge, or if you’re not taking advantage of your tax benefits and employee incentives.

Plain language lovers take heart: all three of these innovative companies have raised millions in seed money and attracted the attention of venture capital firms. Score one for simplification!

A Financial Service for People Fed Up With Banks by Jenna Wortham