Is this UK unicorn the bank of the future?

You see the flash of a fluorescent coral card as someone goes to pay for their coffee. Followed by an instant buzz of a phone as they reach into their pocket to a new notification.

This is Monzo. The “bank that lives on your smartphone and is built for the way we live.” Founded in 2015, by Tom Bloomfield, Monzo quickly won a cult following and in April 2017, it became a fully-fledged bank. It is recruiting around 20,000 customers a week, as reported by This Is Money. The fast-growing startup has raised £85m from US venture capital investors, and this year hit a landmark valuation of over £1bn – making it part of the UK Fintech unicorn club.

Monzo branded itself as exclusively available with the use of ‘queues’ and ‘golden tickets’ to create a demand and exclusivity that has driven adoption and user numbers. The heavy emphasis on viral features advertised it as a new breed of banks that launches accounts that can only be managed via an application on your mobile phone. Monzo’s app sends instant notifications of any spending which are shown a summary under headings such as “transport, groceries and eating out.” You can also set monthly targets to aid budgeting. Transfer money by paying friends over Bluetooth — which allows you to connect with phones nearby — without needing to know their account details.

What attracted the “more than one million customers” – as claimed on their website – was the ability to spend fee-free overseas and free cash withdrawals up to £200 every 30 days. Opposition was seen from customers who wanted to make money from their bank, and not just have it sit on a piece of plastic. The company reacted earlier this week by adding the ability to earn interest on your savings. With a starting deposit of £1000 you can earn 1% a year on your savings.

Do we trust a bank that is exclusively online, or do we prefer a ‘bricks and mortar’ building to hold our money?

Words: Fiona Patterson | Subbing: Duha Ali

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