IIAwards - Review of Monzo
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15 October
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As part of the recently announced IIAwards, in which we celebrate innovations in the fintech and crypto industry, today we bring you Monzo, which we will analyze from different points of view.

General information

Monzo Bank Ltd is an online bank based in the United Kingdom. Launched in 2015, Monzo was one of the earliest of a number of new app-based challenger banks in the UK. Originally operating through a mobile app and a prepaid debit card, Monzo started offering a deposit account in April 2017. As of March 2020, Monzo had over 4 million customers.

Commissions & fees - (3/5)

Like almost all high street banks, Monzo accounts and debit cards are mostly free to use in the UK. As of October 30, 2020, Monzo is introducing a 3% fee on UK ATM withdrawals that exceed 250 GBP over a 30 days period. When abroad, you are allowed to withdraw up to 200 GBP cash for free every 30 days.

After that, there is a 3% fee on each withdrawal. Also, if you are in an overdraft, you will be charged 50p per day (and never exceeding 15.50 GBP a month). As of October 30, 2020, Monzo is also introducing a 5 GBP fee to replace a lost Monzo card. Transferring money in the same currency as your Monzo account is free, while Monzo's international transfer fee is 0.5-3 EUR. Monzo also charges a currency exchange fee for international transfers. This varies between 0.35-2.00% of the exchanged amount, depending on the currency.

Markets & products - (4/5)

Monzo is a next generation bank that offers its clients innovative products in a technologically advanced manner. Monzo provides its clients with instant spending notifications and the users of Monzo card enjoy seamless and fee-free purchases all around the world, as well as it is supported by Apple Pay. It is possible to instantaneously send and receive money from other Monzo users.

Monzo has partnered with Transferwise to provide its users with affordable international money transfers. Its rates are the same as TransferWise’s. In 2019, the company introduced a new feature called "Monzo Plus" that encompasses a set of premium features. Among those, Monzo Plus subscribers are able to access deals and sign up to services directly through the app (things like broadband, home insurance, mobile insurance…).

Frequent travelers will especially enjoy Monzo Plus as it will allow them to easily set up a travel insurance (for an extra 4 GBP/month) and to increase their travel money limit (for 3 GBP/month). Monzo Plus subscribers will also be invited to exclusive events in the bank’s offices in London and they’ll get to pick the design for their cards.

What is more, Monzo offers extra features like the ability to create "pots." Pots are a way to save money for specific projects like holidays, renovations or big purchases. In a few seconds, you can create a pot, name it, and set your savings goal. Then, you can move money towards it whenever you want. Monzo does not have any additional features like investments or insurance.

Advanced banking platform - (1/5)

It is possible to use Monzo only through the company's mobile app. On a desktop computer, it is possible to access Monzo only for emergency functions. It is allowed to freeze or unfreeze (Monzo calls this "defrosting") and examine transactions.

Innovative account opening - (3/5)

UK residents aged 16 or over can apply for a Monzo bank account through the app, available to download at both Apple App Store and Google Play Store. To open an account with Monzo, you need a smartphone with an Internet connection and an ID (passport, driving license, National ID card or other government-issued photo ID), but no proof of address will be required.

At Monzo, you can now also open a joint account with a second person, as long as you both have a regular Monzo account already. You will both receive a new separate joint account card. Download the Monzo App and then fill out the form straight from your phone. After a couple of days, you'll receive the MasterCard in the mail, free of charge. Signing up for an account does not involve a full credit check and therefore won’t affect your credit score.

Customer service - (4/5)

The company's advertisements claim that Monzo has an award-winning 24-hour support. Monzo customer service is available through their in-app chat, phone and support e-mail. The support is responsive, friendly and informed, however, it is available only in English. The brand’s well designed and user-friendly app, plus the overall experience, repeatedly come up as favorites among customers. Simultaneously, on the company website, it is possible to access an FAQ section that unfortunately covers only 12 questions that are associated with the company's history and safety.

Education - (1/5)

A most pronounced drawback of the company is the lack of an educational package. The company has dedicated no efforts to educating its users. There are no educational videos, articles, webinars or courses. It can be argued that the company has dedicated all of its efforts into developing a sufficiently intuitive platform.

Mobile trading / Apps - (4/5)

Monzo mobile app is the company's key technological platform. It is very user-friendly, proving to be a very convenient way to manage everyday spendings. There are five tabs in the app: Home, Summary, Account, Payments and Help. "Home" displays the account balance and the amount of money spent on that day. All the expenses are listed chronologically and you can tap on them to get more details such as the address of the shop, payment history, receipt and notes.

"Summary" gives an overview of your monthly budget. The spendings are organized into twelve categories: General, Transport, Groceries, Eating Out, Personal Care, Bills, Finances, Entertainment, Expenses, Family and Holidays. Every payment made with a Monzo account is automatically registered in one of these categories. It’s a great tool that makes budgeting easier.

At the end of each month, you are able to see how much you are spending on a single category, or even in a single shop. The "Account" tab gives access to the bank account information (BIC, Sort Code and Account Number) and to the Monzo card features (pin, freeze, report stolen, etc.). You can pair your card with a Google Pay account from here. The "Payments" tab is where you will find all the options to send or request money, in the UK and internationally.

UI / UX - (3/5)

Monzo's app is fully featured and simple to use. Spending is tracked and categorized automatically – although not always perfectly accurately – for easy budgeting and a monthly summary of where your money goes, and you'll be warned if you're likely to run out of money before the end of the month. That latter tool handily includes regular subscription payments, such as Netflix.

An easy budget builder sets targets for spending in specific categories, so you'll know if you've blown too much cash on shopping or eating out. Plus, you can set up a separate savings pot. This can simply be a spot where you set aside extra cash, or can be a savings account with higher interest or an easy-access ISA. These pots can collect "round ups": every time you use your card, Monzo rounds up the spend to the nearest pound, dumping the spare change equivalent into your savings pot – a handy way to save a bit extra without effort.

Digital security - (3/5)

The company was recently hit with a serious security breach, with half a million of its customers forced to reset their Monzo PINs after it was revealed they were held insecurely. But it's not only bad news. Monzo uses AI and analytics to watch for fraud. Monzo is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so your funds are protected up to 85,000 GBP. That Scheme also protects customers if Monzo goes bankrupt.

For users, Monzo's instant notifications will inform if someone has used your card. You can then immediately block the card in the app and unfreeze it if you were mistaken or find a missing card. With some websites, the Monzo app enacts two-factor authentication: during the purchase, you'll be asked to tap an approval notification and ensure it's really you using the card.

The magstripe on the card is disabled by default for ATM withdrawals, but can be turned on in the app if needed. iPhone users have an extra level of security using location. If the card is used overseas but your phone is at home, the payment will be blocked.

Novelties

You can now apply for a personal loan from the Monzo app. It is possible to borrow between 200 GBP and 15,000 GBP, but approval will depend on your credit history and score. Unlike many high street lenders, Monzo offers a personalized quote before applying. Monzo does check the credit score of the client but it won’t proceed with a "hard" credit check unless the client decides to actually take out the loan.

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