Rewind back to 2008 — the market was reeling from the abysmal subprime mortgage crisis, millions of Americans found themselves drowning into debt and (oddly enough) smartphones were carving their niche in the consumer tech industry.
Americans began using smartphones to track their money on the go amid the economic chaos.
But despite the inherent convenience in mobile, consumers still had to juggle multiple accounts — checking, savings, utilities, loans and more — and manually piece together a complete financial picture on their own time.
That’s when Guy Goldstein, Hewlitt-Packard’s former senior director of corporate development, saw an opportunity — why not create an all-in-one app that simplifies personal finance?
“We had a thesis that financial accounts were highly fragmented,” said Check COO Steve Schultz, who joined the team in 2010 after five years as the head of Yahoo! Finance. “The average American has 10 to 15 different financial accounts at different institutions … It was complicated to know how much money you have, what’s going on with your credit card and what bills you have to pay.”
That idea blossomed into Check (formerly known as Pageonce), an all-in-one personal finance app that streamlines money management and bill pay.
What Check Does
Similar to other all-in-one money management apps like Mint and (the now-defunct) Manilla, the Check app lets you congregate your fragmented checking, savings and investment accounts into an intuitively simple dashboard.
It also lets you connect accounts with reoccurring bills — such as credit cards, utility bills, insurance and loans — and displays live balance information and due date reminders.
But the connectivity between your checking accounts and bills are where Check truly shines, allowing you to pay bills without mailing in payments or visiting tons of different websites.
You don’t even need to actively follow your bills — at your discretion, Check will automatically pay them for you.
“We decided bill pay was [key] — we didn’t see any companies out there that brought together the power of personal finance and payments,” Schultz said. “So not only are you viewing your data, but you’re able to do stuff… Our long-term mission is to really be the go-to financial application on the smartphone for Americans to get easy access to their data and pay their bills.”
“Our long-term mission is to really be the go-to financial application on the smartphone for Americans to get easy access to their data and pay their bills.”
As of 2014, Check supports connectivity with more than 12,000 institutions and serves more than 11 million users on a regular basis.
Personal Finance Benefits
“We’ve been traditionally focused on the consumer,” Schultz said. “In 2013, we started to get inbound demands from businesses to work with us. Municipal water companies, regional electric companies or natural gas wanting mobile as a solution for their customers to make payments. We have a number of partnerships where we’re working with billers directly promoting Check as a mobile payment channel. Those businesses are adding it to their arsenal of payment options for their customers.”
Delinquent bills will actually lower your credit score if companies decide to report it, so an automatic system like this definitely comes in handy.
And, according to Schultz, it’s what sets Check apart from apps like Mint (although the two now share space under the Intuit umbrella).
“Mint is a very good budgeting application,” he said. “[But] budgeting tends to be a kind of chore. It’s like diets — people are excited about them in the beginning and then about 95 percent of people fall off… We really focus on making it simple and not too complicated for the user and not making it a chore. That’s the key to our success — make it simple day to day and make it action oriented.”
“That’s the key to our success — make it simple day to day and make it action oriented.”
The only drawback is scheduled bill pay takes a couple of days to complete, so remember to schedule payments before the actual due date. However, we can easily overlook the minor inconvenience because 1) The app offers tiers of expedited payments for a small fee, and 2) Check is free to use anyways.
To help you get a better handle on your finances, Check also provides users unobtrusive offers such as deals on credit cards and promotional offers from lending institutions and brokers.
For an additional $6.99/month, you can even get monthly credit score reports from Experian and $25,000 in identity theft insurance.
Check’s Focus on Data Security
For those concerned about security, don’t fret. Check uses triple-layer security armed with 128-bit bank-level encryption verified by third-party security experts (TRUSTe, McAfee, Hacker Safe and VeriSign), 24/7, monitoring of large or unusual purchases and remote data destruction in case you ever lose your device.
“The app is a blank canvas, so to speak,” Schultz said. “We don’t know anything about your financial information until you tell us. Once you do add your accounts and start building your financial profile in check, it’s a very simple dashboard for how much money I have and what bills I need to pay.”
The Future of Check
Once a quarter, Check holds “Innovation Days,” a time for developers to let their creative juices flow and focus on new, innovative materials.
“It’s typical Silicon Valley let-the-engineers-run-wild-and-do-stuff,” Schultz said. “We’ve had some good outcomes and good thinking come out of that.”
One upcoming feature, inspired largely by ideas from Innovation Days, is a new photo bill pay feature that allows users to take pictures of their debit/credit cards in order to make payments.
“It addresses one of these very real household problems of the billstack and allows people to use their phone in a real simple way,” Schultz said.
However, only a select number of existing check users have access to the photo bill pay beta as of today.
He also hinted point-of-sale features were “on the horizon” in what is likely Intuit’s latest push to dominate the mobile finance market. However, he indicated it would still be quite some time before the company officially rolled out POS tech.
Check is a comprehensive all-in-one personal finance app that makes financial planning easier than ever. Its combination of intuitive bill pay technology and user-friendly metrics make it one of the leading finance apps on the market.