FamZoo–Teachable Banking with Text Messaging from TextMarks

When Bill Dwight founded FamZoo.com eight years ago, he hoped to eventually integrate a text messaging feature to improve the user experience of his virtual family bank.

FamZoo saw more than 50% of its free trial users who used the text messaging feature go on to pay for the service.

The innovative website offered families a personalized banking system that parents could use to teach kids how to handle money, manage allowances and track chores. Dwight wanted to give those families a means to go beyond the desktop user interface and interact with their FamZoo accounts by cell phone.


“Some people just like to text,” says the father of five. “So we knew we wanted to do some sort of interaction with text commands.”

In 2007, Dwight discovered TextMarks upon the recommendation of the CTO of Geezeo, an online banking service and TextMarks customer. Banking with text messaging was within reach using TextMark’s API.

Simple, Yet Powerful SMS API

Dwight and his collaborating engineer were impressed by TextMark’s  SMS API that would allow them to build a user-friendly command interface. A few emails with TextMarks staff about handling URLs and redirects, “and we were up and running,” Dwight says.

“It was really simple to wire together and integration was pretty straight forward. We didn’t require a lot of back and forth with TextMarks, since things pretty much just worked.”

An accomplished programmer and former vice president of product development at Oracle Corporation, Dwight says it was a breeze to use TextMarks API to realize their vision for an SMS interface.

“We love the TextMarks capability of not only sending outgoing texts but getting inbound as well. That’s really powerful. We built our own custom command language around it and now our customers can create their own unique shortcut commands for texting. With TextMarks, it is very cost effective and easy to get started.”

It wasn’t long before FamZoo’s customers—both adults and children—were conducting deposits, checking balances, executing transactions and modifying lists on their phones.


Higher Conversion Rates For Text Message Users

And the benefits to the business have been astonishing, most notably, a much higher rate of converting trial users to paying customers.

The conversion rate for families that have registered with FamZoo hovers around 20 percent, Dwight explains. But of those who have used the Quick Command feature on their phones, more than 50 percent have gone on to pay for the service.

“The bottom line is: there’s a very strong positive correlation between successfully executing a FamZoo quick command and being a paying FamZoo family,” Dwight concludes. Those who use the texting features “really love it and are very loyal.”

To educate families to the power and simplicity of the TextMarks interface, FamZoo built an SMS simulator that allows experimentation with the texting platform from the website. The simulator demonstrates how users can text the keyword ‘famzoo’ to 81411, followed by a number of different commands that conduct specific transactions.


With a quick text message, parents can monitor real financial transactions their children make on prepaid FamZoo MasterCards, add funds or dock the accounts for infractions, like neglecting chores.

Because of that powerful functionality, many FamZoo users prefer to interact with their family accounts via SMS. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as Dwight explains: “Sometimes it’s just faster to send a text message than to fire up the app and navigate to where you want to go. It’s just super handy if there are little transactions you are doing with your kids all the time.”


FamZoo started as a private website a software engineer built to teach his kids about money. Now, with help from TextMarks, every day parents across the country log in on their phones to bring the same experience to their own families.

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