Latest tweets from Monzo Bank

Monzo Bank

A bank that lives on your phone

Sector: Futurebank

Promoting itself as a “new kind of bank”, Monzo is just that. Placing technology at the core of everything it does, the entirely online bank is designed specifically for smartphones and is built to solve problems in a transparent and convenient way. Customers can use the app to manage their money, set monthly targets for regular expenditures such as groceries and eating out, and will receive notifications if they’re spending too quickly. The bank also has plans to make it easier for users to find the best utility deal, automatically switching them to the best provider. Monzo doesn’t offer a savings account, but instead will put customers’ money in the ISA or savings account that will work best for them. Furthermore, Monzo can be used all around the globe, meaning customers don’t need to inform their bank when they’re abroad: no extra fees are charged, and the exchange rate isn’t marked up.

In simple terms, Monzo is a smart bank for the smartphone generation which does away with things like bricks and mortar branches, cheque books and the like; instead it hinges around an app.

In its own words Monzo says it’s: “Focussed on building the best current account in the world and ultimately working with a range of other providers so that Mondo can be an intelligent hub for your entire financial life.”

Users of the Monzo card have spent more than £20m in over 130 countries since launch.

The Monzo card is a MasterCard debit card. Previously the company only issued pre-paid cards, but now it’s a fully-fledged bank, and users get proper accounts, with sort codes and support for direct debits and standing orders.

In addition to the card you get an app, which you can use for paying money into the account, but it will also instantly update your balance, provide handy notifications (including why a transaction was declined) and more, such as a neat visual way of seeing where you spend your money. You can also use the app to suspend the card if it’s lost or stolen, and to request a new one.

There’s also support for both Google Pay and Apple Pay – you just have to go into the Monzo app to set it up, and within a few minutes you can add the card to your virtual wallet, giving you easy access to contactless payments through your phone.

There are other benefits including adding notes or receipts to transactions, and the card also won’t be blocked if you go abroad – you don’t need to notify Monzo about travelling.

Plus there are no fees or charges when using the Monzo card outside the UK, although the company recently introduced a £200 limit on ATM withdrawals from outside the UK. You can withdraw more, but you’ll be facing a 3 percent charge on anything over £200. You can still spend by card in shops and online abroad with no fees, so that’s what we’d suggest doing.

A recent article in FT starts with “Tom Blomfield has just been cleaning up his glass-walled kitchen in east London, where he treated a co-founder of his company to breakfast. “I managed to tip half the scrambled eggs over the floor,” he grimaces. His week has been better than his morning.”

Blomfield, 33, is chief executive of Monzo, a digital-only bank that has just hit 1m users. Launched by him and his co-founders in 2015 with a simple prepaid card and a mobile app, Monzo is now considered a frontrunner among challengers to established banks and is set to reach the “ unicorn” status valuation of over $1bn before the end of the year.

The typical Monzo user is the young professional Londoner who flashes their “hot coral” coloured card as they pay for a flat white. Yet along with growing numbers, the company’s user base is now diversifying, attracting users of all ages to its in-app customer service. “The banks are so obsessed with their financial products and optimising them that they forget the human. They end up optimising each financial product rather than thinking holistically about what makes a human’s life better. What are customers anxious or worried about?” His company starts with trying to solve these problems, he says.

Fundamentally, Monzo is considered cool, which Blomfield insists he’s not. He spent his days at Oxford university playing croquet, became a World of Warcraft addict during his year studying abroad in Paris, and goes to baking classes. Blomfield is a businessman, not a tech guru. After a law degree, he became a management consultant and worked at a few start-ups before leaving now-rival Starling Bank to start Monzo.

Sitting across from me at his wooden kitchen table, he says Silicon Valley, where many of his investors are based, is an exciting place, but has “got weirder”. It’s verging on a dystopian “monoculture” that encourages unhealthy lifestyles and ignores the chronic mental health problems it fuels. He tries to buck that trend, he tells me — he woke up at 7.50am this morning. Unsurprisingly, he says he’d prefer Monzo to stay in London. Its main rival, Revolut, has just applied for a banking licence in Luxembourg, because of Brexit fears. Monzo has no plans to do that just yet. For two years, Blomfield has lived in his Hoxton home with his girlfriend, who works for a charity, and two friends. It’s the most stable he’s been for a while.

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