Jason Del Rey

Recent Posts by Jason Del Rey

GoBank, the Pay-What-You-Want Mobile Bank Account, Launches Out of Beta (Video)

Back in January, AllThingsD senior editor Liz Gannes told you about GoBank, the branchless bank account for the smartphone era that doesn’t charge overdraft fees and allows its users to choose what, if anything, to pay in the way of a monthly fee. The financial service is FDIC insured and owned by prepaid card seller Green Dot.

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Now, after six months of allowing a few thousand people to test the product in beta, GoBank is launching publicly in the Apple App Store. An Android version will be available next week.

As Liz wrote in January, “GoBank charges for just four things: Putting a personal photo on your debit card ($9), going to an out-of-network ATM ($2.50), spending money in another country (three percent), and paying your membership fee (whatever you want, a la Radiohead or Humble Bundle).”

So, what’s the catch? Alok Deshpande, GoBank’s vice president of product development, said the company keeps its costs low in part because it doesn’t operate any brick-and-mortar bank branches. But does it actually think its customers will choose to pay a monthly fee of anywhere from nothing to $9 for a checking account, when they don’t have to? Deshpande said it’s too early to tell, since beta users weren’t given this option, but that the feedback the GoBank team has gotten is that beta users liked what the messaging around the payment option said about the type of banking relationship GoBank is trying to foster.

Still, Deshpande hinted that the company may build out the bank’s feature set in the future, allowing for additional ways to make money. Right now, GoBank also gets a cut each time you use one of its debit cards for a purchase.

The product should get some nice exposure next month, when it will be integrated into the new season of “Project Runway.” It will also receive a marketing boost from promotions at Rite Aid and Barnes & Noble College bookstores, the latter of which is an indication of one GoBank’s target customer groups: College students and other tech-literate, first-time bank-account holders. Besides the limited amount of fees, one of the app’s most popular features is the ability to check an account balance from the app’s home screen without logging in (assuming you opt into that feature).

But for those of us who don’t often get dinged with overdraft fees and are pretty happy with our bank’s mobile banking offering (nice work, Chase), GoBank is probably not the answer.

Here’s a video that shows off some of the features that set the app apart:


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google