The company, which recently changed its name from Mondo and is currently in beta testing, aims to dramatically improve the experience of a typical current account by leaning heavily on smart technology. ‘Bank accounts are a vital part of your life,’ said Tom Blomfield, the co-founder and CEO of Monzo, ‘so there’s a huge market, but the service currently offered is just so bad – especially compared to Uber, Amazon Prime or Google Maps.’
Monzo’s solution is to offer users a host of handy features. Spending is tracked in real time and is represented on a graphical timeline within the app. Each transaction is also geo-located, and users can deactivate and reactivate their card instantly – handy if you think you may have misplaced it. There are no fees for being overdrawn, for late payments or for using your card abroad. In fact, there are no fees at all.
Monzo also makes budgeting easy. Users can see exactly how much they’ve spent in a certain shop (shedding light on their coffee addiction, perhaps) or break their spending down into categories like ‘eating out’ or ‘groceries’. ‘We want to build an app that lives on the home screen of your phone and is used every hour – not once a month – to check budgets,’ said Blomfield.
To turn a profit, Monzo offers loans to its customers and then benefits from the interest generated. It’s a typical model – called net interest income – but that doesn’t make Monzo a ‘typical’ bank with a friendlier interface. ‘Every part of a bank is optimised towards selling you financial products like credit cards, overdrafts and mortgages,’ said Blomfield. ‘They aim to acquire you from an early age and then rely on your apathy to sell you average products. That feels hugely immoral.’
Instead, Monzo only focuses on one product – the current account – and concentrates on offering a ‘transformative experience’, rather than one that simply serves as a stepping stone to other products. But, when users do require another service, Monzo has plans to make the process as simple as possible. ‘In the future, we’ll use APIs to bring in the most attractive products from across the market, so our customers always get the best deals,’ Blomfield explained.
For now, though, Monzo’s 45 employees are currently concentrating on securing a full banking licence – something that Blomfield says he hopes will happen ‘within the next few months’. The company has received £8m ($11.6m) in funding to date, and has a waiting list of 180,000 people who are eager to join.