Banks Aren’t Addressing ‘Real, Human Problems,’ Monzo CEO Says


EXCLUSIVE— Banks need to focus on fixing all of the little problems humans encounter in daily life, rather trying to sell more mortgages and credit cards to their users, Tom Blomfield, CEO of UK neobank Monzo, said today in an online Q&A.

Banks need to focus on “real, human problems,” Blomfield wrote, in response to a forum question this morning on which big problems banks should address that they are currently not addressing. Blomfield writes:

The problem of managing all of your money in one place. Making it to the end of the month without getting hit with unauthorised overdraft fees. Slowly saving up for a special purchase. Managing your bills in a flatshare or a house. Not getting ripped off on your car insurance when it auto-renews.

The thousand niggling problems people encounter when trying to do all of the tedious administration to stay on top of their finances, and survive in today’s world.

Real, human problems.

Instead, the banks are trying to solve their problems; how can we sell more mortgages or credit cards?

Monzo, which was launched in 2015, provides digital banking and savings tools to its users. Its focus on daily financial tasks has led to rapid customer growth, including a quick shift to the bank’s newly offered current account service.

The bank is adding about 60,000 new current accounts per month, with “zero” cost of acquisition, Blomfield wrote, and the average Monzo user interacts with her Monzo account approximately 620 times per year.

Blomfield also spoke about the possibility of new features on the platform, including offering interest on savings, noting that “the issue is that we don’t yet have productive ways to lend out money,” he writes. “Instead, I’d like to offer partner banks on our marketplace, and give users the ability to turns “pots” into “savings pots” and earn interest. Still within the Monzo app, but sitting on the balance sheet of another bank.”

As well as user growth and current accounts, Blomfield spoke to the many challenges he faced as a non-banker attempting to start Monzo as one of the earliest neobanks in the United Kingdom, including some misconceptions about the banking industry.

Blomfield writes:

Coming into this as a non-banker, I had some assumptions about data consistency and integrity that were incorrect. I believed that since we’re moving money around, everything had to be strictly correct at all times; “strong consistency” in database language. Three years in, it feels a bit like the entire financial system is duct–taped together. It’s “eventually consistent” – so many things can go wrong with all the interlinking payment schemes that the industry has developed a huge range coping mechanisms. End-of-day reconciliation is a good example.

There are about 362,000 Monzo current account users at present, as Bank Innovation reported previously.

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