Could the big banks copy what Monzo's doing?

Hi all,

I’ve written an article about the difficulties big banks will face in copying the approach of Monzo and its ilk.

If you do get a chance to read it, I’d love to hear any thoughts and comments!



Absolutely l think the big Banks will raise to the challenge:

  1. Functionality - certainly the Banks on more modern platforms will get there (maybe not RBS). In terms of real-time notifications, seeing pending transactions there are not that far off. I note your comment about some transactions taking days to reach accounts, l think any offer that includes offline offer (such as Contactless) there is always that risk. I note that all my fintech cards are all online, which is great for balance no great for the last day before payday when can buy a cheeky lunch. I think the agnostic marketplace will probably be harder for Banks as that pushes against their revenue model, that is commission on their own products.

  2. Fair and simple charges: I think this is where the challengers will lead the traditional Banks a little, but l think until there is some view on account charging charges will be an important earner. However of course the scale of challenger banks (no branch network) makes it possibly to get by on thinner margins.

  3. Transparency: Again lessons to be learnt.

Personally l think that some of the challengers fintech will either be bought by a traditional Bank (not Starling bashing at all but of them all l can see them fitting well in acquisition). I think traditional Banks will learn and adapt the challenge for them will be their scale, Monzo et al will always be more nimble in terms of features rollout and that will be there key differentiator.

I think for the challengers to really take off their needs to be a real shift in the UK Banking market, things like CASS, Metro Bank hasn’t really changed the market so much. I think it is the beast of free banking could be the thing that offers those working on a more agile framework and therefore cheaper more attractive to encourage those who are suspicious of an app based Bank much more receptive.

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PS good article :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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We also have an existing thread on the subject you might want to read (if you haven’t already): How easily can the big banks replicate the Monzo experience :slight_smile:


Really interesting points you raise, thanks for those and the positive comment!

Thanks, I will check it out!

Thanks for this! Good article. User numbers a bit out of date. They are just shy of half a million users and expect to hit a million in Q1 or Q2 of 2018. Can see user growth here


You’re welcome, glad you like it! That doc is so interesting, thanks for sharing.

It was created and maintained by @alexs who is only a monzo user (not an employee), which boggles the mind as to the levels of evangelism and passion in the user community. Imagine someone doing that for Barclays? That would be lame :grinning:


My worry is that they won’t just copy the good parts of Monzo - they’ll also start putting ads in your transaction feed, no doubt in a more obnoxious way than Monzo. Then before long it’ll be impossible to get a bank account that doesn’t have ads peppered through your statement.


I know this may be rehashing an old argument but I think we can agree that the legacy bank implementation of this would be much worse, a terrible UX and not actually trying to help you in any way - which I believe is different from the way Monzo are trying to do things.


Oh yes definitely. I personally despise the idea of ads in my Monzo feed, but I get that some people are ok with it or even like it. An RBS version would, I’m sure, be universally despised.

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… and they would not engage with or consult the users on how to improve it either!

Their app has won some award(s) apparently so someone loves them

Well the NatWest app

Yeah I use the NatWest app. It’s actually great.


I’m going to apply Betteridge’s Law of Headlines to answer the question.


Could they? Probably. Will they? Probably not. They might make a few noises in the right direction but why spend money when you have the majority of the customers and they aren’t going anywhere…

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I’ve worked in the the banking industry as a technical architect, in my opinion, they may one day catch up with the likes of Monzo, but by that time it will be too little too late.

The big banks do not have the internal flexibility to quickly develop and deploy new tech and updates, theres far too much bureaucracy, red tape, form filling etc, even before you can schedule a date to productionise anything…


Could the big banks copy what Monzo’s doing? That all depends on what you think Monzo is doing…

Can they get a decent app, open up their APIs, etc., etc.? Yes

That’s why it’s important that Monzo is doing more; from constantly innovating to developing a reputation for customer service to the informal use of emojis

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