Review summary for the Beam high interest banking app
BEAM HIGH INTEREST BANKING APP
BEAM, the long-awaited mobile banking app that has been promising high interest rates has launched (currently in beta) and yours truly was part of the group that got a chance to use the app and service first.
This is my full review of BEAM, the high interest rate mobile banking app.
Before I get into my review of the BEAM high interest rate banking app, let me address some of the main questions that you might have about the service:
Is BEAM Legitimate? Which Is To Ask, Will My Money Be Safe With BEAM?
I’m not sure.
BEAM claims that any money you deposit with them will actually be held by Evolve Bank & Trust, an FDIC insured institution since 1934 based in West Memphis, Arkansas. I’ve reached out to Evolve Bank & Trust and they have denied a direct partnership with BEAM.
I was told that the connection is through another customer of Evolve’s named Synapse Financial Technologies. The number I was given for Synapse went directly to voicemail, but the company did reply to an email where they directed me back to the BEAM Terms & Conditions as the place to find all of the answers to my questions.
That’s not good enough.
Quite frankly, BEAM can say whatever they want to say. What I’m looking for is confirmation from the institution holding my cash (Evolve Bank & Trust), that my funds are safe and protected by FDIC insurance. The only thing I received from Evolve was a denial of a direct partnership with BEAM.
Your money and mine could very well be insured under Evolve’s FDIC protection, but other than a claim on BEAM’s website I’ve been unable to verify this. That makes me nervous and I’m not going to use the service because of it. Someone else can be the guinea pig.
Maybe this has been a case of something being “too good to be true.”
You Do Not Need To Switch Banks To Use BEAM
BEAM is a “supplemental” bank account. Think of BEAM as a place to park your cash where it can grow faster than it otherwise would.
Beam is not meant to replace your primary checking account. Instead it is a “higher-earning supplementary account” where you can park your cash and earn 2-4% APY. Nothing more, nothing less.
- Beam is NOT a traditional checking or savings account
- Debit cards and check books won’t be issued
- Direct deposit isn’t available
- Bill pay isn’t available
Features normally associated with traditional bank accounts could be part of BEAM’s future if there is sufficient demand for them.
What Interest Rate Will I Receive?
The base APY for a BEAM account is 2% (compounded daily) but you can boost that that rate up to 4% by earning something that BEAM is calling a Billie.
A Billie can be exchanged for a higher interest rate; it’s an interest rate booster. You can earn Billies in two ways:
- If you refer a new user to BEAM, you’ll earn 3 Billies
- Each day between 6:00 and 7:00 PM you can login to the BEAM app to claim a Billie
Using BEAM Billies To Boost Your Interest Rate
Here’s an example of how you can earn and use Billies to boost your interest rate with BEAM.
Suppose that you have an account with BEAM and I use your referral code to sign up for the service as well. Now you and I both have accounts.
Because you referred me, you received 3 Billies, and as a new user, I have none.
Later that day at 6PM we both open the app and claim our daily Billie.
Now I’ve got 1 Billie and you’ve got 4 (three for referring me + your one daily Billie). You and I can now “deposit” our Billies to boost our APY.
What is a Billie Worth?
The value of a Billie changes daily, so it’s impossible to say how much a single one will boost your rate, but for the sake of our example, let’s say that one Billie is worth 0.25%.
So we both deposit one Billie and now our BEAM account is earning us 2.25% (2% baseline APY + the 0.25% from our Billie deposit).
In this example, that would be the end of the road for me because I only have one Billie, but you’ve still got three Billies to play with (thanks to your referral credit). So you deposit your three remaining Billies, boosting your rate up to 3%:
- You started with a 2% APY and your first Billie deposit boosted you to 2.25%
- Billie #2 took you to 2.5%
- Deposit #3 boosted you up to 2.75%
- Finally, Billie #4 took you to 3% APY.
Sweet, right! Not too complicated.
Unfortunately, your BEAM account reverts to 2% each day, and the only way for you to boost the rate is to deposit more Billies the next day.
If you don’t want to deal with Billies or engage with your bank account at all then you will get a 2% APY, which is still probably double what you’re getting today. But if you’re willing to open the app for a few moments each day to claim your Billie between 6-7pm, then you can boost your rate a little bit.
Using the BEAM App (for iOS)
Currently BEAM is available only via an iOS app. At the time of this post (April 2018), the app is 67.7MB and requires iOS 9.0 or later to run. Android users will get their version of the app soon, but there aren’t any plans to develop a web-based product.
Using the app is simple enough. You can download it via the App Store and it takes just a few minutes to get it set up.
When first setting up your account you’ll need to validate your identity by providing your Social Security Number and a photograph of your driver license or passport. You can use the BEAM app to take a picture of your identification and submit it.
Federal regulations require all banking institutions to validate your identify, so don’t be surprised by this step.
Connecting your other bank(s).
In order to move money into BEAM, you’ll need to connect the BEAM app to your bank. This process is simple and took less than two minutes to complete.
Within the app, simply select Banking –> Add Account –> Search For Your Bank –> Login To Your Bank Within The BEAM App.
Transferring funds into BEAM
Once you’ve connected your bank, you simply transfer over the money that you’d like to save with BEAM. That’s it.
Transferring money on your app is simple and intuitive, but the process of actually moving from one bank to the other can take up to 48 hours to complete.
Moving cash out of BEAM
Getting money out of BEAM is simply the reverse process you used to get money into BEAM. Again, it can take up to 48 hours for the transfer process to clear.
I’m giving BEAM a 1 out of 5 ranking because I’ve been unable to confirm FDIC protection of my deposits. Not only that, but the bank BEAM has claimed to partner with for this FDIC protection has denied a direct relationship.
The connection from BEAM to Evolve’s FDIC insurance comes via a third party named Synapse Financial Technologies. I’ve been unable to personally speak with anyone at Synapse, but I did receive an email from them that referred me back to BEAM’s terms and conditions. I was also told in a roundabout way that my inquiries to BEAM, Evolve, and Synapse are annoying and that they aren’t in the business of managing these types of inquiries.
Because of this, I do not feel at all comfortable depositing any of my money with BEAM. Nor do I feel comfortable referring my readers to this service. In fact, I’ve disconnected my primary bank account from the application and have uninstalled it from my phone.
If the application had a way of terminating my account altogether, I’d do so.
Things Could Be Fine
In the end, if everything turns out to be legitimate (and it very well could) I still don’t like the Billie program and the fact that any boost to my APY resets back to 2% each day.
While 2% is still double what you’ll get from most major banks, the 1% incremental difference isn’t enough of an incentive for me to go thorough the effort.
Here’s what I don’t like:
- Billies. I’m not a fan of working to boost my APY each day, and I’m really not sure why BEAM is requiring it? Most users won’t like jumping through hoops.
- Manually depositing Billies. If I have accumulated Billies, I wish that BEAM would automatically deposit them for me to ensure that I get the highest possible APY each day.
- Why does the value of a Billie change every day? That’s odd.
- I don’t like that my APY resets daily. If a Billy lasted for a month, or even a week, that would be great. But reverting daily is a disappointment.
- The flimsy connection to FDIC insurance
Here’s what I like:
- The account is free, with no minimum balance required
- The base 2% APY is double what most major banks pay
- The app is simple and easy to use
- Getting money in and out is easy
I will update this review as I continue to learn more about the product and service. The ability to earn a decent APY on my cash would be great. But at this point (delayed launches, poor communication, partners denying partnership) there are just too many red flags for me.
In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions that I can answer.
Leave your questions and comments below.