Asian name formats


how will Monzo handle Asian style names? Our existing bank had a complete hissing fit when we set up my Asian wife’s current account, & again with our joint current account - & the issues still aren’t resolved. This is what I mean:

Western names are written in the following format:

Given name - Middle name - Family name

Asian style names are written in a totally reverse format (eg: on passports & ID cards):

Family name - Middle name - Given name

To add to this issue, in many Western cultures a wife will take her husband’s Family name when she gets married, but in many Asian cultures they keep their maiden name - although any children get their father’s family name. Because of this, I still don’t fully know if our existing bank have us recorded as married to each other or not.

Our existing bank currently have her Family name as her Given (first) name & her Given name as her Family name (this was the only way that they would give her an account, so we had no choice but to agree). This makes life really tricky as HMRC refer to her as “Mrs Family name” but the bank refers to her as “Mrs Given name”, & the paper bank statements are a vital proof of address & proof of ID document that we keep on having to use. This regularly causes me untold amounts of grief, as it throws a major spanner in almost every bureaucratic mechanism you can think of.

I am lucky enough to have just got my “Golden Ticket”, so I am in the process of getting my wife set up on Monzo, with a view to eventually ditching my old bank - as soon as we get things like joint accounts here & everything has properly stabilised. Naturally, as an Asian lady, my wife kept her maiden name when we got married, & has her name is written in the Asian format in her passport and ID card.

So, can you organise your systems so that they understand that the standard Western format for writing down names isn’t actually a global standard? We’re just about to find out, as we’ll be setting up her Monzo account later today, as I’ve just pressed the button to use our Golden Ticket…


not for me to answer but i have heard that the debit cards will not carry any names.

in regards to the above, and sorry if it sounds obvious, but why not write the surname in the forename box and the forname(s) in the surname box.

not ideal, but i guess it gets around the madness that youve been going through

sorry if this sounds silly.

User’s names will be on the cards :slight_smile:

ahh i heard wrong then…

That’s what we had to do, & that’s exactly what causes the nightmare… :scream:

Presuming that your name is Henry Pedro, as your profile states, what do you do if your bank has all of your documentation refer to you as Mr Henry, whilst the tax man has all of their documentation refer to you as Mr Pedro. You then need to use documents from both sources to prove that you are actually you, & you live somewhere with your wife, who is not called Mrs Pedro, or even Mrs Henry, but is actually called Mrs Jones. You try getting a random bureaucrat to rubber stamp something that is supported by ID documents like that. It doesn’t get you very far… It involves lots of deep breaths & calm explanations - & repeat visits.

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I appreciate the fact that, that this doesn’t answer your question but for context, we know that Monzo are eyeing expansion into Asia at some point. So this is definitely something that they’re going to have to address at some point, even if they haven’t got a solution right now…

Screenshot from Monzo’s Crowdcube investment deck.

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Stop me if I’m oversimplifying, but if Monzo simply ask for “Family Name”, “Given Name”, and “Other Names” wouldn’t that cover most cases?

They could even ask you if you want your name in a different order than the standard English name format.

I actually have high hopes for Monzo considering things like different name formats, non binary gender etc.



i feel your pain. that can’t be fun.

i get alot of people calling me Pedro even though my first name is Henry.

I dont really mind. i guess i’m unique in having a first name as a surname.

you’d hope so being a forward thinking bank.

You may not be totally wrong, I did read something similar about :monzo: keeping stock of cards without names for faster deliveries or maybe special requests. I’m undecided as to whether I want my name on the card or not :grinning:

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We’ve just run through the Monzo setup process on my wife’s account, & it asks for “Full Legal Name” - & then the system refers to her as “Family name” - whereas it refers to me, on my account, as “Given name”. That means that the IT backend system is parsing all names in the Western format automatically…!

This means that the automatic Monzo systems are already adding incorrect information to their database.

This is a bug that needs resolving right now, before it spreads incorrect data throughout their systems. It’s all very well to have a nice, clever, automatic system that parses information - but it needs to do it 100% reliably. There are loads of Asian people living here in Britain, & many of them are the kind of tech savvy people who are interested in a Monzo account. Trying to fix databases later is a nightmare…

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This is something we’ve discussed a lot internally. As you’ve seen already, the current implementation does not work for names other than those of that “traditional” English format (I saw you used the phrase “Western”, but e.g. Icelandic and Spanish names behave differently).

My personal favourite resource on global naming conventions comes from the W3: personal names around the world. This refutes any global concept of “family name” or “given name”. I’d also add that Hugo (our Head of Design) is Spanish, so has a personal interest in this issue!

My opinion is that the best solution is two separate fields: “full legal name” and “what should we call you?” This serves additional purposes for us, for instance it allows us to refer to our Trans customers by the chosen name of their new gender identity, before they have made the corresponding legal change (the “legal” name is required for credit searches, etc.)

(As a side-note, “legal name” is actually a fairly nebulous concept in the UK – the Government’s change of name by deed poll page goes into this a little.)

We do keep a “preferred name” concept internally, which is why if you ask Customer Support to call you “Jim” instead of “James”, they’ll continue doing that in future interactions; but this concept is not reflected correctly within the app. As you have seen already, we have a long way to go.

Hopefully the above goes a little way to showing, firstly, that we intend to find a solution for naming that suits everyone, and secondly that any solution will require a great deal of nuance, given the large number of constraints: not merely on formatting of names and communicating with customers, but on the way we run credit checks, support name changes, and communicate with users whose “legal” name doesn’t represent their personal identity :slight_smile:

Great question!

Edit: I just wanted to add a clarification in response to the following point you made:

We ask for, and store, just the content of the “Full Legal Name” input field. Further uses are presentational only, and are derived from that field (not stored separately).

This was a conscious choice, for the reasons listed above: canonical data about names cannot make assumptions about concepts like “given name” that are not well-defined globally :thumbsup:

We’ve been thinking about names for a long time!


Epic response, thank you @james

This is why I jumped on the Monzo bandwagon as quickly as I could, & helped my wife to jump on as soon as I was able to. A thoughtful, knowledgeable & above all, forward looking response to my question. This just couldn’t happen at our existing bank. I also really appreciated the database clarification - as an IT bod, that’s the kind of thing that I notice, & then think about.

Much appreciated.


Having just read your link to W3: personal names around the world I can see why Monzo went with Legal Name… It’s a massive can of worms! As a family, we’ve had more than enough problems with Vietnamese vs British naming conventions, so I hadn’t got around to considering other culture’s ways of doing things. I do like the concept of extending the “preferred name” concept out from your internal systems, though. I’ll watch this space with great interest :slight_smile:


And Malaysian passports do not distinguish between surname and given names, even in the MRZ section. The only section available is the full legal name. For some of us, we have given names + patronymic where the latter takes the place of the surname.

e.g. a guy named Isa bin Osman (‘bin’ - son of) P<MYSISA<BIN<OSMAN, instead of P<MYSOSMAN<<ISA and so on

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