Banking for Users Without Banking Services such as Asylum Seekers

(reposted here as suggested, originally posted to Competitor Update)

I came across this from the North East Migration Partnership. New pre-paid visa cards for people without bank accounts. I wondered if the Home Office is on Monzo’s list of potential integrations, and if asylum seekers might be a another group of potential users to be supported.

… new Aspen card which is due to be introduced into Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland week commencing 13th February and to other parts of the North East in quick succession before the end of April.

Aspen is the new pre-paid Visa chip and pin card that individuals will use to collect their asylum support payments.

The current process for receiving “Section 95” support sees individuals going to the nearest Crown Post Office where they use their Application Registration Card (ARC) to draw down their weekly support allowance.

As part of the Home office’s commitment to improving services for customers, UKVI is modernising the documents used by asylum seekers to establish their identity and collect their support payments. The functions of the current ARC will be disaggregated, and two new documents provided to asylum seekers:

· New ARC – the resources required to produce the current ARC are no longer commercially viable and the IT infrastructure is outdated. A new, more secure, ARC will be provided, which will be used to establish identity and access relevant services.

· Aspen payment card – rather than being asked to visit the nearest Post Office, individuals will be issued with the Aspen card which can be used in most ATMs, and (subject to conditions pertaining to their eligibility for support) retail outlets where the Visa badge is accepted. The Aspen card will also be used to provide individuals with S4 support and ISTs, replacing the Azure card used today.

The new Aspen card builds on the current processes used by the Home Office and seeks to reduce disruption to staff and external stakeholders where possible, whilst allowing both the Home Office and the user to benefit from a modern, digital service.


Hey Colin, most definitely. We have a duty to educate users and promote financial inclusion in everything we do. Everyone needs some form of financial intermediation in order to function as part of a modern society and I hope we can be the bank to provide this for groups of individuals who would otherwise find this difficult.

We’ll be setting out a clearer manifesto on how we plan reach excluded individuals and groups at some point and how this aligns with our ethics as a bank more generally. It’s a big task and we want to make sure we do it right. It’s important to us all here at Monzo and plays a big role in shaping our goals for the future.


That sounds great. It’s fantastic to see how Monzo is developing and improving.

One of my personal goals for 2017 is to make sure that refugees, homeless people and other underbanked groups can open an account with Monzo.


Wow I am humbled by the greatness of Monzo and its staff’s vision. Thank you so much. :tada:


Wonder what percentage of people in these groups have a smart phone and data connection, Will there be some form of alternative access, such as web ?

You’d be surprised - though maybe smartphones + wifi is more likely - (ignore the title / tone of the first article, it’s only ‘obvious’ that they would if you read certain sources of news) -


All the asylum seekers I have met in London have Smartphones and those I have visited in their accomodation or homes have had broadband or wifi too.


Good to know, thanks, guess this is something I hadn’t given much thought too

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Following on from Jonas’ comment, it was great to read yesterday in an interview with Tom, that Monzo already has a current account service for the unbanked in mind already -

he also shared some insight into the scale of the problem & the impact it has -

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This thread illustrates just how difficult it is to open a current account in the UK at the moment, as a refugee :pensive:

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As noted in this other thread:

… the Lords Select Committee released a report relevant to this topic on 25th March 2017.

The Select Committee on Financial Exclusion calls on the Financial Conduct Authority and Banks to give greater priority to tackling financial exclusion in the UK. With more than 1.7 million people in the UK without a bank account and 40% of the working age population with less than £100 in savings, the Committee asks them to end the scandal of the poorest being excluded from even the most basic financial services.

The report can be downloaded from this page:


Very good. Just because they are refugees in another country or internally displaced doesn’t mean they poor beggars and should not be entultle to basic rights to communication and fabulous facilities. They are also humans and they have rights to use these facilities. They must use it to bring property to their lives and make them independent.

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There is someone on Mumsnet who is trying (and struggling) to help some refugees open bank accounts.

A couple of folk over there have suggested Monzo , is this is something you would be able to assist with?

If so maybe you could go do some outreach on MN, good Samaritans, and good advertising :wink:


Monzo usually require passports. Some refugees lose theirs.

Also, have a look here:

I have heard that monese can be quite a bit more flexible in their ID requirements than Monzo, though these are unsubstantiated rumours.

Would love to know more about this as well.

As Jonas mentioned Monzo wants to provide accounts for the unbanked. Tristan’s mentioned to me recently that it’s still in their plans. It’ll be a while before they’re ready though.


I’m pretty sure there was an article about this topic a while back that was big news, after someone tweeted about their journey around banks trying to open an account for an asylum seeker or immigrant. I feel like perhaps Tom commented to say Monzo would try to help, and that may be how I first heard about them. But I could be misremembering…

They would have heaps of official government documentation to be able to claim asylum. Photo ID is the biggest problem.

Credit union might be worth a try, a lot of them do debit cards these days

As a former director of a credit union I can say however that they (are supposed to) apply the same level of KYC and AML as a bank does. So they may have to hunt around for a more lax credit union with less stringent documentation requirements.

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Forcing users to move to current accounts has forced my refugee friend off Monzo - any way to get her an account again?