Post Loopt acquisition, Green Dot announces Gobank, the first mobile-only bank

gobank

For those of you wanting to see a revolutionized banking industry, allow us to introduce Green Dot’s Gobank, a mobile-only, penalty free banking solution unveiled at Green Dot’s press conference in San Francisco today.

Those of us with commercial banking accounts know a thing or two about fees . To maintain a checking or savings account, these payments are small but it add up over time, and penalties will hit your wallet even harder. Green Dot CEO Steve Streit says that over $30 billion in penalty fees were collected by banks last year, and unlucky souls who opened new accounts could have added another $30-$50 on top of that. 

go bank

This is where Gobank comes in, with a completely free mobile banking solution. In case you aren’t quite grasping the concept, that means there are not brick-and-mortar locations you can visit. All activities, including deposits, sending money to friends, and transferring money between types of accounts, can be done via smartphone. The only non-mobile service that Gobank offers is a tangible debit card and 45,000 Greendot ATMs across the United States. In other words, you’re more likely to find a Greendot ATM than ones from Chase or Bank of America.

The app itself has four major features. Like Chase and just about every bank with a mobile app these days, you can deposit a check that gets sent straight to your checking account with a picture, front and back, of the check. Second, you can store away some money for a rainy day or toward a vacation fund that you can’t spend, which Gobank calls the “Money Vault.” Think of it like Gobank’s version of a savings account, but it’s fee-free and customizable.

Sending money is a social experience on Gobank. Friends can be notified via SMS, email, or Facebook about a money transfer between Gobank accounts. If your friends don’t have Gobank, then the process defaults to a Paypal facilitated transfer.

gobank fortune teller

The most entertaining feature that Streit and Greendot EVP of mobile products and technology, Sam Altman, appeared to be proud of is Fortune Teller. “We have a philosophy that tech is entertaining,” Streit tells me. Consumers expect apps to be entertaining.” With Fortune Teller, users are able to set budgets and billing options for any recurrent payments they may have, including monthly insurance payments, utility bills, or rent. Based on this information, Fortune Teller is like your digital personal finance angel. Say you want to purchase a Macbook; Gobank will tell you whether or not it’s a smart investment based on your budget.

Users can be issued a tangible free debit card that can be used for daily transactions. And it works with Square and other payment processing services. To take this service a step further into “fun” territory, Gobank customers can elect to receive a personalized debit card (for $9) with a picture of their choosing from their mobile device’s library or even from Facebook.

Now where Gobank really sets itself apart from competitors is its groundbreaking audacity to charge its users absolutely nothing to maintain a Gobank checking account. Green Dot is (pardon the pun) banking on the confidence that some users will pay up to $9 per month voluntarily just because they love the app and want to throw their support behind the app. There aren’t even any overdraft charges to penalize you should you accidentally spend more than you have. Streit says that Green Dot expects people that overdraft will pay back what they owe.

Gobank will also make money by collecting a cut from merchants for every time a customer uses their Gobank debit card. There’s also revenue for Gobank in value-added services like the purchase of the debit card, and float income.

Gobank is a two year work in progress for Green Dot that required the prepaid debit card company to purchase a Utah bank back in 2011 and then the mobile location-based app Loopt in 2012. So despite the challenges of convincing consumers that a bank can be mobile-only, Streit assures me that Gobank isn’t just an experiment. Green Dot has a lot invested in (and riding on) its attempt to evolve the model of modern personal finance — which is perhaps the most difficult industry to change. 

Edit: The article originally stated that all debit cards cost $9. The $9 charge is only applied to personalized debit cards.

Product Review

Fascinating Finney phone is crypto in a nutshell: Exciting, but also terrifying

The Sirin Labs Finney phone is to cryptocurrency what the iPhone is to Apple Pay. It facilitates the payment, processing, and exchanging of cryptocurrencies on a smartphone, and surprisingly does it in a user-friendly way.
Movies & TV

Battle of the movie ticket sites: How to make sense of the fledgling industry

MoviePass may be the industry leader in subscription-based movie ticket sales, but the company's troubles have opened the door for competitors AMC Stubs A-List, Sinemia, and Cinemark Movie Club. Here's how the services compare.
Smart Home

Amazon Echo Dot vs. Echo Dot Kids Edition: What’s the difference?

The Echo Dot Kids Edition combines a free year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited with a two-year, worry-free warranty. But is the Kids Edition really all that much different than the regular Echo Dot?
Mobile

Samsung beefs up just about everything in its Galaxy S10 smartphone range

Samsung has unveiled its 2019 flagship smartphone lineup, and there aren't just two phones as usual -- there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Home Theater

Reasons not to mount a TV over your fireplace (and other helpful tips)

Mounting a TV above your fireplace may be popular and it might even seem appealing, but we have some concerns. We've got a list of reasons why placing your digital picture machine over a fire should be avoided, if at all possible.
Smart Home

Colored fridges are back, baby! GE’s new appliances revive the 1950s trend

GE Appliances is coloring us surprised at KBIS 2019 by introducing new hues for its signature Cafe line of smart home appliances including four new hues launching this fall to complement its black and white options.
Smart Home

Stainless steel is so last year. In 2019, it’s all about colorful appliances

For the past couple of decades, the color of choice for appliances has been stainless steel. Now, makers are introducing ovens, fridges, and dishwashers in vibrant hues to give customers a more customized, refined look in the kitchen.
Product Review

Miele's TWI180 dryer has one job, but struggles to get it done

Miele’s Heat-Pump Dryer is a compact machine that steams your clothes by recycling the water collected during the drying process. But how well does this technique work for getting clothes dry?
Deals

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.
Smart Home

1 in 4 people plan to buy a smart lock this year, study says

According to new research published by Parks Associates, one in four households in the United States are planning to purchase as smart door lock within the next 12 months to protect their home.
Smart Home

Samsung lets slip that its Galaxy Home speaker will be here by April

Samsung has been teasing customers about its Galaxy Home smart speaker, powered by the Bixby digital assistant, for some time but after neglecting to mention it at Galaxy Unpacked, the company let it slip that it's coming in April.
Smart Home

Become a master chef with restaurant-grade gear you can put in your home

Hestan's new line of customizable indoor cooking suites for home chefs features ranges and range tops in a variety of sizes, single or dual fuel sources, number of burners, and griddles in two sizes with single or multiple heat zones.
Smart Home

Mount your TV correctly with the best stud finders of 2019

Endlessly searching for a stud in your wall can be a chore. Fortunately, these stud finders are both high-tech and straightforward, meaning you can drill, nail, and hang with the utmost confidence.
Smart Home

From fridges to fireplaces, the most luxurious home items you can’t afford

KBIS 2019 was a chance to see what's new in kitchen and bath tech, including all kinds of cool appliances. Some of these are the over-the-top luxury items that are destined for a very small number of mansions.