Bye Bye Bank Branch

I was reading this article on Wired about the upsurge in online-only banks, and it got me thinking... this whole online bank idea seems to be gaining popularity. I recently saw a commercial for Simple, a new online bank, and signed up. I should be receiving my debit card in the mail any day now. The idea is… well... simple! They get rid of your local bank branch, which I personally never even use, and give you a suite of online (and mobile) tools to help you track spending and easily categorize your transactions.

The application even claims to be smart enough to know that something I label as “Catnip for Jean-Luc” (yes, my cat shares a name with the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise) should be filed under “pet expenses”. I can even upload and tag a photo of the cat playing with his new catnip toy. At first I thought, "wow, I can’t believe how banks are changing." But then my MR brain switched on and I thought “wow! That’s a LOT of data!”

Not only will my bank know where I am and what I purchase, but they’re going to know my pet’s name, and how and when he plays with his catnip. At first I thought this was just some shiny new feature meant to attract today’s Instagram-obsessed masses… but is it something more? Are institutions like banks doing their own MR on the sly?

Does someone at Simple actually have an interest not only in my spending patterns, but in collecting all kinds of data on what I do after my purchase is made? If I had to guess I would say yes, they are most certainly interested. And if they’re not, they definitely should be. They are about to get a goldmine of data from each and every user, including yours truly. And I for one am incredibly curious to see what they do with it. I bet a lot of companies would salivate over such detailed data about the lives of their consumers, and their post-purchase behavior. Mmmm. Data-licious.