A Monzo Marketplace - for app extensions and functionality?

So the news that Monzo has developed a receipts API has had me thinking about a Monzo Marketplace. No, not the platform to integrate products or services from other financial institutions, but a way to expand the functionality of Monzo. Think of it as an app store for Monzo!

I wrote a bit about it here (and pasted below under the fold), but I think it got a bit lost in the financial platform stuff. My thinking has moved on a little, too - the examples here are okay, but not particularly compelling and all a bit in IFTTT territory at the moment…

More details and some dodgy designs under here

Platform 2: Functionality!

Money is emotional. People have different habits, different requirements and different ways of managing their hard earned cash. Perhaps some of these are objectively more “correct” than others – but people aren’t always rational when it comes to managing their finances.

Monzo, like any other platform, has finite resources at its disposal. But what would happen if you took a slightly different approach to as platform and, like Facebook, allowed others to extend the platform and develop their own extensions?

I’m by not suggesting a free-for-all (financial services and banks are still heavily regulated, after all) but I have a feeling that, done right, this could be the most disruptive thing anyone looking to disrupt the banking space could do…

Think of the app store. Now think of Monzo. With the right APIs and frameworks, developers could code extensions for Monzo (the 1p savings challenge; sweeping money left over at the end of the month to savings, maybe even providing an alternative to Monzo provided functionality like Summary). This would give users greater flexibility and make Monzo an essential (irreplaceable?) part of their financial life – one that’s personal to them.

This would need investment and management (or “curation” in tech speak) but done right I see it as a fundamental game changer – perhaps as much the way that Apple’s app store was when it first launched.

Visualising third party functionality in the app

Unlike the financial services marketplace, I’ve chosen to mock-up the marketplace for functionality itself – mostly because I’m not sure that a lot of the extensions would be visible (how would you see that you’ve added a new rule to transfer a pound to charity every time a particular Twitter account tweets, for example?) Where there could be extensions to replace or enhance parts of the Monzo app itself, it felt to me that mocking them up would be to explore the potential for that particular extension rather than the concept of extensions as a whole. So I thought about how the marketplace might look:

  1. Products would take you to the financial products page with subcategories for savings, investments, insurance – as well as curated sets of products that would be intended to replace packaged accounts. Think of App Store bundles more than Barclays Blue rewards. Extensions are like micro-apps for the Monzo app itself. Either rules that folk have coded using the API, or potentially replacement for screens wholesale (here, the example is to replace Summary with something for those with weekly income). My Needs is a crude title that needs more work! The concept is that you tell Monzo your outgoings on stuff (or confirm it from what Monzo guesses from your transactions) then it monitors the market and your outgoings to see if you could get a better rate. It’d then either alert you to change or – with permission – just do it in the background with a confirmation note your feed.
  2. The Extensions marketplace may be a way for Monzo to (appropriately) monetise the app. Here, I’m suggesting what are effectively micropayment (expressed in pence rather than pounds) for functionality. But that’d all need to be thought through. I suspect a lot of basic extensions would be done out of love and given away for free. The example of a costed one here is for something more significant – a replacement of one of the standard Monzo tabs. Monzo may or may not want to take extensions this far…

And here’s how one of the extensions’ config screen might look:

Given Monzo has limited resources, would anyone else be interested in a Monzo administered ‘app-store’ for add-ons - either as part of the app, or as separate apps/websites that could be authorised per user? I’d be keen to explore whether community members / developers could create things like integration with credit cards, optical character recognition to create receipts from images, an email service to add emails / PDFs as either attachments and/or proper receipts…

Would anyone else find this interesting / useful? Is it a direction Monzo could / should take? What sort of services would you like to see offered by this type of Monzo Marketplace?

6 Likes

Wasn’t there a Marketplace before?

Could bring that back and have tabs.

1 Like

IFTTT needs support… I think it becomes a support argument. If there are a enough people to support it then I think it could work. I would worry that it could become full of Abandonware, I do think it should be easier for developers to be able to push their designs publicly, For example James Sherlock did


I mean whether they wanted a cut would be up for a debate but I think so developers are genuinely just doing it because they’re interested/want a project

2 Likes

Absolutely, I think this is what I was getting at. Correct me if I’m wrong, but at the moment there isn’t any mechanism to assure or release this type of thing at scale - at least without being an AISP.

If Monzo were to police this a bit like an app store - and take a very small cut - this is the type of thing I’d gladly spend a one-off £1 on to make my life easier. And hopefully Monzo would also take the hint and integrate some of the more popular ones natively into the app over time!

I think it would save them a lot of money and time in the long run. You can pay for the services but they’re normally very expensive and don’t fully integrate. If you take this resource of Hobbyist and professional programmers and put them into some sort of team(managed via Github and Slack)(I mean sometimes people just need a portfolio for their CV). You could end up with some seriously good Applets and programs for basically no cost(Other than a reference and a portfolio). I mean I’ve been playing with Google vision and I think an integration with google lens would be great(I’ve also been playing with the Hackathon program that I found on Github((to get it working)).
I mean you could even have a special card colour for community developers. In summary, I think no capitalising on the Opensource nature of their product is a huge oversight.
EDIT:Some people need management experience which they can’t get in their normal job either

2 Likes

“Introducing GitZo: an approved open source repository of Monzo extensions - or ports to other platforms”

3 Likes

:eyes: