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7 Reasons to Love GoBank

GoBank does so many things well, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Here are seven reasons consumers will love them… and seven reasons traditional financial institutions should be quaking in the boots. GoBank is undoubtedly a challenger brand that’s going to shake up the banking industry.

By Jim Marous, SVP/Corporate Development at New Control

A few weeks back, I wrote an article commending GoBank on their excellent new customer onboarding communication. Using the informal tone that is consistent with the GoBank brand, they made it clear how I could best use my account and what I could expect from them.

Subscribe TodayI have been using my GoBank account quite a bit over the past several weeks, and I continue to be impressed with the way the they excel at nearly everything they do. Like most of the better mobile banking applications, I can easily make a deposit by taking a picture of a check. If I’m paying another person, I can instantly send money using their email address, phone number or even Facebook account and they will be notified immediately by email or text message.

Since I didn’t receive any physical checks with my GoBank account (it is truly a mobile banking account), I can pay many bills like phone or cable electronically. If I need to pay a business that doesn’t accept e-payments, or I just need to give someone a check (yuck) then I can send it through GoBank easily as well. I simply enter the information and GoBank will mail a paper check ­ free of charge. I can also set these analog payments up to send out regularly if I need to.

But that’s just the beginning. Here are seven other reasons I really like GoBank and how the brand is fulfilling its commitment to ‘make common actions super easy’ (think one click).

1. Customized Debit Card

While GoBank is mostly a mobile banking account, they do provide a debit card. As part of my onboarding process, they allowed me to customize my GoBank debit card with any picture I wanted.

While this is available at many online and traditional banks, GoBank didn’t position the feature as an afterthought but rather as a way to personalize my new account for a $9 fee if I didn’t want the standard card.

I opted for the personalized card and it appears I was not alone. Lewis Goodwin, CEO of GoBank, said they wanted customers to start off with something fun. “$9 seems like a price people are willing to pay to have free-reign over their debit card design,” he told me.

( Read More: GoBank Makes Great First Impression With Fantastic Onboarding Email )

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2. Balance Bar

With most mobile banking apps, I need to sign into my mobile banking application just to see an account balance. Why is that? Even if someone did manage to steal my phone and see my balance, they couldn’t get funds from my account. GoBank makes the primary task of getting a balance inquiry immediate with their Balance Bar.

On the GoBank login screen, I have the option to peek at my balance without logging in. I simply authorize the capability as part of my initial security settings and I am ready to go. When the GoBank login page appears, I simply slide the bar at the bottom of the page for my balance. This capability alone has moved them forward in my assortment of mobile banking partners.


3. Custom Alerts

Rather than having a preset array of notifications that are automatically attached to my mobile banking relationship, GoBank allows me to customize a wide assortment of alerts both by type of alert and the way I’d like to receive those alerts — mobile notification and/or by email. The following are the alerts currently available:

  • gobank_notificationsDirect Deposit Posted
  • Purchase Greater Than (value from $1 – $1,000)
  • Gas Purchase Greater Than (value from $1 – $1,000)
  • ATM Withdrawal Greater Than (value from $1 – $1,000)
  • Daily Balance (once a day alert via mobile device or email)
  • Balance Lower Than (value from $1 – $5,000)
  • Budget Reminder – Money Coming In (set for 1-5 days before)
  • Budget Reminder – Money Going Out (set for 1-5 days before)

The options for alerts will undoubtedly change and expand over time based on customer input. What is nice is that all of the alerts can be set in a very simple, easy to understand way — just like with everything associated with GoBank.

4. Negotiable Monthly Fee

The most revolutionary part of GoBank is the ability to specify a monthly “membership fee” at any level you want from $0 – $9 (again using a sliding bar). If someone isn’t sure what to pay for their monthly membership, GoBank provides industry factoids using several sources. Sample insight includes:

  • Most Americans pay $12 per month just to keep a bank account open (source: Pew Charitable Trust)
  • In 2012, Americans paid $32 billion in overdraft fees. GoBank has no overdraft or penalty fees.
  • GoBank has 42,000 free ATMs — more than twice as many free ATMs as BofA or Chase

I’m sure I’m not the only customer to actually accept a fee for my new account — despite the fact that almost all of my banking relationships are free. I set my fee at $3 since that is what I am used to paying for a withdrawal at ATMs outside of my current network.

GoBank also notes that my fee will be deducted every 30 days and that I can change my membership fee at any time up until midnight on the day prior to the charge.

And by the way, I love the term “membership fee.”

( Read More: Should Credit Unions Charge Membership Dues? )

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5. GoBank Fortune Teller™

The Holy Grail of most robust mobile banking apps is the ability to build a complete personal financial management (PFM) integration. GoBank avoids overcomplicating the budgeting process. Simply input the payment reminder (rent, cable, electricity, gym), provide an amount and indicate the frequency. The same is true for deposit reminders. Once a budget is set, the power of the GoBank Fortune Teller™ comes into play.

I can use the Fortune Teller to double-check my budget before I spend. I simply tell the Fortune Teller how much it costs, and GoBank gives me a quick yay or nay based on the budget I’ve set. And since mobile deposits and payments post immediately, my Fortune Teller update represents a real time balance.

There are no fancy graphs, charts or analysis of my budget as part of the GoBank PFM proces -- just the basics, and done very well.

There are no fancy graphs, charts or analysis of my budget as part of the GoBank PFM proces — just the basics, and done very well.

6. GoBank Communication Style

Not surprisingly, GoBank is not keen on bank speak. In fact, I have yet to receive any communication from GoBank that was not generally informal; it’s a minimalist’s dream. While many customers of GoBank will find this refreshing, many bankers I’ve spoken with think the communication is not “professional enough”

For me, the style is perfect. In fact, instead of burying me in the account’s terms and conditions (which I’ve never read once in my life), they simply make their formal documents available online if I want to view them.

This video gives a good example of the tone GoBank uses. The video gives an overview of GoBank’s main features: the Balance Bar, Fortune Teller, membership fee, budgeting tools and ATM network access.

7. GoBank Referral Program

While not exactly innovative from a strategy perspective, GoBank definitely has developed a very simple and powerful referral program for their mobile banking application. Because GoBank is still technically in beta (until the July 4th holiday), there is a virtual line of people waiting to open an account. To help a friend move to the front of the line, GoBank allowed current customers to invite friends simply by sending them $1 using the person-to-person payment feature. For the recipient, redeeming the $1 they get couldn’t be easier, taking as little as 15 seconds.

What is cool about this strategy is that I am actually using the payment app to refer a friend, which familiarizes users like me with the simplicity of their mobile P2P payments tool. On the recipient side of the equation, they are being given money from a friend to try GoBank leveraging the power of word-of-mouth marketing.


What’s Next? Rollout of GoBank

According to the GoBank presentation at FinovateSpring a few weeks ago in San Francisco (see 7 minute presentation below), the rollout of the GoBank app will occur on July 4. GoBank will be using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to create buzz around the GoBank offering. There will also be targeted digital media used as well as partnerships with key financial and technology insiders and several web properties according to Steve Streit, President, CEO and Chairman of Green Dot (the banking holding company for GoBank). Many of these partnerships will focus on households who may be underbanked at this time.

Partnerships with large national retailers are expected, where displays and informational brochures will be utilized promoting trials of the service. Rite Aid has already been announced as a retail partner for the introduction, with Kmart and other retailers expected to follow.

Finally, product placements on national television are also planned, with the first announced partnership being with Project Runway.

From my perspective, GoBank will do well in the marketplace following their KISS strategy that does not overcomplicate mobile banking. While there will definitely be offerings in the marketplace that will have more ‘bells and whistles’, it is clear that the differentiation of GoBank in the marketplace will be to provide basic banking services, with fair pricing, no surprises, using extraordinarily clear communications with nothing a typical banking customer doesn’t need.

Jim MarousJim Marous is co-publisher of The Financial Brand and publisher of the Digital Banking Report, a subscription-based publication that provides deep insights into the digitization of banking, with over 150 reports in the digital archive available to subscribers. You can follow Jim on Twitter and LinkedIn, or visit his professional website.

All content © 2017 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Digital Banking Report | 2017 Marketing Trends


  1. Excuse me. I’m going to go nervously vomit now.

  2. Joe Schmigotz says:

    It indeed DOES look pretty innovative and attractive. Though I’m interested to see how things progress with Gobank, I have 2 comments: 1. If I had a dime for every time someone said that this would “shake up the banking industry”, I could afford to open my own bank and; 2. I will be curious to see how thier (very good) plain, easy language will ultimately have to reconcile with onerous (and growing) regulatory requirements.

  3. Not all that impressed….

  4. Fred Willey says:

    Its nothing to be impressed about. The writer of this article most likely doesn’t use GoBank as his primary bank. GoBank’s competition is AmEx/Walmart’s Bluebird Card at this point. And GoBank is better than using any prepaid card, even a prepaid card with low fees like Bluebird.

    GoBank seems to be designed with the unbanked in mind and its fine if obtaining a traditional checking account is not possible. But in it’s current form it has quite a few limitations when compared to a traditional checking account. The app has a lot of nice tricks but you’re gonna need more than that to get banked folks away from the old brick & mortar.

  5. GoBank is great. Wonderful app, excellent customer service but watch out when disputing a transaction. My account was closed because of that.

  6. Jim Donahue says:

    I’ve been using Gobank since May and it’s been great. The only issue has been that Cardtronics ATMs which are free charge for transactions but customer service has been great and crediting me the fees.

    The only billpay I’ve used that can pay Capital One credit cards.

  7. GoAskAlice says:

    I think it’s a fantastic idea!
    You’re all jealous because YOU didn’t think of it…

  8. Very interesting features. Look like they may be worth a try. Not sure it will revolutionize banking but it surely is a step in the right direction. Thanks for the interesting post.

  9. AJ Gallion says:

    Depositing cash? I have a serving job and receive cash tips… Direct deposits and routing numbers? My day job doesn’t cut checks and how easy is it to set up direct deposit, especially without having available checks on hand?

    I live in an apartment where they don’t accept online payments… so I must hope that my rent is paid on time just by setting up an automatic “check” to be sent out and hope it doesn’t get lost in the mail. Eek.

    Also, I don’t think having a customized card is that special. My Capital One card is “customizable” and so is my Wells Fargo debit card… nothing special.

    Wells Fargo may charge me $8 a month to have an account with them… but at least I can deposit cash easily and write a check for those few bills that don’t have electronic payment.

  10. AJ, that’s why there are different banks — to serve different people’s unique needs.

    Although someday cash (and the merchants/payees who only accept it) will have gone the way of the dodo bird, 8-track tapes and Betamax.

  11. Justin Ward says:

    GoBank is a terrible choice for banking.

    My Girlfriend mobile deposited a ($500) business check. They placed a 10 Day hold on a check even though the funds had been released by the financial institution of the check,

    Save yourself a bunch of head ache and research these guys before you use them. I’m not the only one who has had this problem.

  12. Joe Green says:

    If u read before u sign up. It tells u they hold checks for ten days

  13. I have been using them for a number of months now. It was easy to fund the account electronically from another bank account. I like the push notifications (optional) when I make a purchase. The slide balance feature is unique and not employed by any other mobile platform. Making a cash deposit is easy as they have arranged the ability to do this at major retailers throughout the US. Overall,there is room for improvement. Their app is too simple and should categorize you spending in a more elaborate fashion. Bottom line. I see huge potential for this bank. If you’re paying big fees at BOFA, Wells Fargo etc, you now have a choice.

  14. OverDraft Fees No More says:

    I don’t live paycheck to paycheck but I have had unfortunate episodes where I have had cumulative over draft fees from traditional banks.
    So right now I have GoBank. It is impossible to get a $30 overdraft fee or 10 of them. I can deposit and withdrawal money at 7-11, Walmart, Kmart with no fees. I do have a regualar bank account to deposit checks to but that is far and few in between. And they grab my ACH payroll deposit up to 2 days earlier than anyone else has.
    I think if I had an extra $1000 in the bank I would be more likely to stick with a traditional bank with more fair fees but GoBank has helped me really cut down on usury fees from Big Banks and I am really appreciate of that.

  15. Wow! Gobank is the worst! my experience has been the exact opposite. Well Bluebird may have non English speaking customer service representatives.go bank has plenty of English speaking representatives. but what good does an English speaking customer service representative when there’s nothing they can do to help you. case in pointmost of the month of March I was traveling. during my travels I needed to stay in a hotel obviously. each and every time I paid for my hotel gobank authorize the card then they would debit the card so I would have a charge and a pending transaction on each transaction not for just a few dollars but for hundreds of dollars at a time and in some cases they charge me double and debit my account. essentially I would have 3 transactions for hundreds of dollars at a time. My last episode that drew me over the edgeis I want to go check into the hotel. the hotel receptionist swipe my card and it came back declined even though I had enough to satisfied the transaction. when I call the bank to check the status they indicated that the transaction had completed and it was debited from my account for about $300. So the hotel receptionist asked for the transaction number or approval code and go bank provided it.but three days later they put an authorization hold on my card for the same amount which left me me over drawn. So when I called the bank to question the transaction they advised that they were so so sorry about the mishap but they wouldn’t be able to return my money for up to 10 days which was the case on prior transactions . this is not the only time instances like this have occurred and like I said it’s not been just for a few dollars it’s been for hundreds of dollars at a time. so if you need access to your money right away go back is not the bank for you but if you can risk this or afford to have hundreds of dollars on hold for days at a time for no reason then it may be the bank for you. I can never afford to have these large amounts held for ten days. I give them 2 thumbs down no stars and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone. Finally they also say that they have over 14,000 free ATMs I’ve paid $5 or more per transaction every time I’ve withdrawing cash from my account. I’m so done with them. RUN AWAY FROM GOBANK

  16. I have Go Bank in my experience has been wonderful I have cash several checks through the check depositing I only had one on hold it was over $1,000 they held it for a few days. But I really think it’s because a few days prior to that I cash another one for $800 somthing dollars. ( they were school checks ) any other check that I cash with him became available right away whenever I call customer service my issues got resolved I even lost my card and someone charge gas on it they told me it could take up to 10 business days for this claim but I receive the money back in my account within 2 days I also love them because they have a direct connect with Paypal wear it with my other account it take a few days before the transfer to go through. To me the communication is awesome when you email them they seem to understand what you saying most of the time the first time around I get my paycheck two days faster I actually split my paycheck and half between my other bank there has been no overdraft charges I even have paper checks this is something that I started a few months ago I believe I have currently been with them for about a year in a half. Go Bank has really been awesome however if you have another bank someplace else please keep them as well it’s always great to have more than one account

  17. Wilfred Ruck says:

    Fantastic. Lives up to the promises that most banks make. Truely friendly and accessable interface. The app must have taken years to make it so simple. Trust me, thats not easy to do in an industry full of financial and legal regulations. You can take a pic of any check. You can send money to PayPal. You can check your balance without opening the app. You can find nearby fee-free ATMS. Most importantly, unlike all other PrePaid Debit cards, you have a bonifide checking account.

  18. Christina Vargas says:

    I hate how do business they cancel my card and making me wait 2 weeks but last time they overnighted me now I got paid but I want be able to give my kids a Christmas do to u all mistakes I asked to speak supervisor they said it will take 2 days I hate this I will be closing my account

  19. I’ve had my GoBank account for a year now. I absolutely love it.

  20. Jonathan Coward says:

    Gobank is a second rate prepaid card I was told my card was block when I ask why Gobank told me someone else use my card I ask them where when and how I had the card and I also match the card activities to GObank and proved it was me. The next day Gobank call me and said they going to send me out a new card because someone else is trying to use it. So I ask who and where they said they don’t know and end of story. I will never use Gobank again in my life.

  21. tim ketchum says:

    will this card work in mexico

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