Michael Fotis

Is mobile banking app Monzo too good to be true?

Innovative, transparent, simple, easy, fair, open, helpful, honest, smart and caring. These are the top ten words customers use when describing Monzo’s culture on Smart Money People. It comes as little wonder then that since launching in 2015, Monzo has picked-up some two million current account customers, is valued at two billion pounds, and now has its sights set on cracking America.

Young Brits have flocked to Monzo, and its bright coral card, in their droves, because carrying around a Monzo card is cool. Gimmicks like a rumoured £70 metal card which confers no additional benefits other than looking good in your hand as you pay for your chai latte, won’t help Monzo to lure in new customers, but it does help keep brand Monzo Instagram ready, which is an impressive feat for a start-up operating in the typically unglamorous financial services sector.

What makes Monzo different to the likes of Halifax and NatWest? Is there any substance behind the gimmicks and the hype? My take is that there is. And here’s why:

It’s all about the app

Monzo is a mobile-app based bank that’s been developed inhouse. This means that it doesn’t have to unpick decades of legacy systems that make seemingly basic tasks difficult. This gives Monzo the innovation edge in the minds of customers. For example, it offers budget management features that help customers better manage their money, like ‘pots’ which can be used to save up for specific goals. Monzo also took home ‘Best Banking App’ at the British Bank Awards.

Transparency

Monzo’s customers view it as transparent, which can’t be said for most banks. It has worked hard to make things like terms and conditions simple to understand, publishes its roadmap, and has won plaudits for honest communication when things have gone wrong, like system outages.

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