BBVA Compass Bank is entering the social media world through an alliance with SmartyPig LLC.

The U.S. unit of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA will start holding the U.S. deposits for SmartyPig, an online service that lets customers save money for specific things such as vacations or car purchases and share their spending goals with friends through Twitter or other social media sites.

Since it is not a bank, the Des Moines company has about $250 million in deposits housed at West Bancorp Inc. in West Des Moines. Customers will be able to shift their funds to BBVA Compass or withdraw them.

Rick Claypoole, the director of consumer deposits at BBVA Compass, said the relationship will go deeper than just bringing in a sizable amount of core deposits. BBVA Compass, with $65.2 billion of assets, hopes to sell other products to SmartyPig clients and use the relationship to learn more about social media.

"This rapidly accelerates our involvement in that space," he said in an interview. "It serves as an entry point for Gen Y" and should give BBVA Compass more visibility in California, where SmartyPig has many customers, he said.

Bob Weinschenk, SmartyPig's chief executive, said the company had spent six months interviewing bigger banks to take over the account. His company had "outgrown" $1.7 billion-asset West, he said, with SmartyPig accounting for roughly 23% of the bank's deposits. "We were looking for an established institution with a culture of innovation," he said in an interview.

SmartyPig was also interested in finding a bank that could offer other services and enough capacity to let it keep growing without straining its banking partner's resources. Claypoole said one opportunity could be to market mortgages to SmartyPig customers who are saving up to make the first payment on a new home.

Doug Gulling, the chief financial officer at West Bancorp, said SmartyPig accounted for about 17% of its deposits at March 31. The bank been building up its fed funds and other investments and "has the liquidity" to weather the deposit outflow, he said. "We've been planning for it all along because we knew if the idea was successful it would eventually outgrow us," he said.

Weinschenk said he expects most of SmartyPig's customers to stay with the service when it switches to BBVA Compass from West, which is expected to occur Aug. 1. He said there is no plan to alter the 2.15% interest rate on the savings accounts. Officials at the firms declined to discuss financial details of the relationship.