I don’t usually like “trendy” companies. I’m not averse to modern upbeat companies in the slightest, it’s more their marketing strategies that I sometimes find obnoxious.
Monzo (Formerly Mondo) is a different kettle of fish though, if you can see past all the emote’s in every single communication released by the company. For anybody that doesn’t know who Monzo are, they are a new banking startup here in the UK looking to revolutionise the was people do banking. You can find more information at their website if you are interested, but I’m going to go through my favourite bits right here.
At the moment Monzo only offer a pre-paid MasterCard that can be topped up via the companion app on my smart phone. This is a reasonable stop-gap until they obtain their full banking license and are allowed to offer current accounts as it gives users an opportunity to explore their app and some of the features they think will change the payment card industry. It also allows them to gather feedback from the community about what they want from a bank.
Instant Transaction View
First of all, within seconds of me making a payment using my Monzo card, the transaction appears in the app. The payment also includes details of where the transaction was made on a map and gives statistics on how much has been spent in total with the retailer. In comparison, my current account with another leading UK bank doesn’t show me debit card transactions in their app for 5 days. They are quick enough to deduct it from my available balance though.
The Monzo app sends me notifications for every transaction made using my Monzo card, wether it was in store or online. It event tells me if a transaction was declined for whatever reason, which helps to keep other accounts in order. Notifications seem to be pretty instant too, which is good.
Using my card when I travel abroad is great. Instead of my bank charging me a percentage of all transactions plus extra charges for cash in a different currency, Monzo charge me nothing. Not only that, you get a favourable exchange rate as well. In fact, I withdrew €200 while in Amsterdam and I was told the exchange rate instantly. By the time the funds cleared though the exchange rate had fallen, so Monzo gave me the better rate without me even knowing about it. You can’t argue with that sort of service.
The app allows me to instantly freeze my own card whenever I like. Wether I’ve lost my wallet or simply don’t want somebody skimming the contactless chip in my pocket. This is a very handy feature. I can also defrost my card in the same way when I want to use it.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably forgotten your PIN for at least one card in your lifetime. Usually that involves calling the bank, waiting on hold for 45 minutes, answering your security questions which you have probably forgotten, and then waiting 5 days for a new pin to drop on your door map. It’s just not that tricky in the Monzo app. Simple login, Go to your card settings and click PIN. After presenting my fingerprint to prove it is me, my PIN is shown on-screen. I’d say biometric authentication is more secure than a peice of paper handled by hundreds of hands to get to me any day.
Everybody knows the magstrip is the least secure part of a payment card. That’s why it’s disabled by default on Monzo cards. Due to issues with international travellers not being able to use magsrtip only ATMs however, Monzo have added a cool feature in the app to enable the magstrip for 24 hours. Now that an ingenious solution to an outdated technology flaw that won’t go away because of the unwillingness of ATM owners to update their ATMs.
Location Based Security
Another cool feature to help protect users is Location Based Security, Which would help if your card was cloned. Basically, whenever a transaction is made with the card present, Monzo use the location of your smart phone to determine if it was made by you or not.
I think Monzo will do well in the current banking landscape. It’s about time a bank came along that didn’t rely on ancient mainframes, batch processing payments and taking days to clear funds. It’s 2017 and that just isn’t acceptable any more. I noticed some of the big banks claim to not be worried about Monzo. I’m sure Research in Motion said something similar when Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone, and look where it got them.
Personally I can’t wait for them to launch their current accounts so I can lose my legacy banks and start banking in a smarter manner. Let’s just hope they keep to their promises of reasonable charges and fair practices.