The Origins of Digital Banking with Shamir Karkal

The Origins of Digital Banking with Shamir Karkal

Today, we’re joined by Shamir Karkal, co-founder of Simple, the first digital bank in the US, and now co-founder of Sila.

Founded in 2009, Simple was the original digital bank, conceived and built to give people more control over their money. After a few successful years, Simple was acquired by BBVA for $117m, under whose ownership it operated until early-2021, when it was shut down.

Simple was loved by its users and mourned following it’s closing, in what was a sad moment for fintech.

Today’s breed of digital banks, including Chime, Varo, Current and others, inherited a lot from Simple, who pioneered the space.

However, few of Simple’s most popular features have been replicated by other players. In recent years, we’ve seen huge user growth achieved by fintechs offering banking to previously underserved customers, especially those living paycheck to paycheck. Nonetheless, Simple leaves a powerful legacy, and many lessons learned, for the entire fintech industry.

In this conversation, we go deep on what worked and what didn’t for Simple, why it never hit escape velocity, why its users loved it so much and how Shamir and his co-founder Josh engineered life changing payouts for their employees through the BBVA acquisition.

We also discuss Shamir’s current company, Sila, which is building programmable money for the next generation of fintech companies.

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Thank you very much for joining us today. Please welcome, Shamir Karkal.