Users Hit 65K Mark at U.K.’s Monzo

monzo-mastercard-2LONDON — British challenger bank Monzo‘s new customer acquisition rate appears to be hockey-sticking.

Tom Blomfield, co-founder of the new bank, told Bank Innovation today here that Monzo’s weekly — yes, weekly — debit-card customer growth rate hit 8.7% last month. Blomfield said Monzo, known as Mondo until August, now has 65,000 debit users, and the bank has not yet officially launched.

That launch, marked by the introduction of a checking account product, will come next quarter, Blomfield said. The startup is working on a limited U.K. banking license, which Monzo received last August. The full license will allow for the launch of the full Monzo.

As part of the launch, Monzo is raising £15 million. Blomfield predicted that Monzo “will have no trouble” raising that amount. Monzo has raised $17.7 million of funds to date, according to Crunchbase.

The process to get to this stage took about two years, Blomfield said. The first five or six months involved submitting reams of material. “The regulators want to make sure your bank is viable and sustainable,” he said back in August. That means the business model is sound and it can be demonstrated that customers want to join the bank. Banks are required to have about £20 million on hand, only a portion of which is capital reserves.

The U.K. has seen a blossoming of challenger banks in recent years, thanks to a kinder regulatory environment and strong econony, with links across the continent. Brexit may make the market less attractive, though few negative repercussions seem to have hit the fintech scene yet.

To secure the license, Monzo will also have to hire several additional staffers, including a head of compliance and head of credit, including others.

The company now employs around 60 in a crowded storefront office in a less-traveled area of London. Post-It notes coat nearly each wall in the space.

But the launch of Monzo’s banking products is not even close to Blomfield’s eventual vision. Firstly, Monzo will also launch an overdraft credit product in 2017. Beyond that, Blomfield said Monzo wants to offer a “marketplace” dynamic, where customers will have the option to tap into a whole menu of fintech products — Transferwise for remittances, Nutmeg for savings, SoFi for student loans, etc. Blomfield thinks a “massive data platform around people and their money” is a “billion” user business, on par with Google or Facebook, and it is aiming for that goal with a launch of marketplace, presumably in 2018.

For now, Monzo’s initial goal is 300,000 users post launch and 1 million users in short order after that. Then it is on to bigger goals.

“We have aspirations,” Blomfield said.

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