Financial control as abuse and how Monzo can make a difference

After a (unrelated, as it turns out) question posed by a member of the forum, discussion turned to Domestic Abuse and Financial Control. Wondered if anyone wanted to continue the discussion separately.

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One thing that struck me is how contacts with Monzo accounts auto populate into the Payments tab. I’ve always thought this acts like a social network that’s impossible to leave, if someone has your number. This will have a bearing for customers who are victims of Domestic Abuse (DA). Has Monzo got a policy and a technical way of blocking some contacts?

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Is that only when you turn on the “pay friends” feature? Or is it on by default?

I’m yet to really see the advantage of knowing some contacts in my address book have Monzo, but I appreciate it’s designed for the social element, and the more friends you have that use it, the more useful it is.

How? Genuinely interested to understand this.

Monzo with Friends is still an opt in feature. It doesn’t show contacts by default.

This is something I’ve thought of before.

A made up example (not real).

I’ve recently, finally, taken the plunge and been brave enough to leave my abusive husband. Following the split he constantly called me, text me - harassed me basically. I had to block him, to stop him doing this. I did it on everything, phone, WhatsApp, Facebook and everything else. This is great that most smartphones and social networks can do this.

However, on opening a Monzo account I see he already has an account. Which means he is visible to me on the payments screen, so I am visible to him. He can now communicate with me through Monzo, by sending me 1p transfers with a message for example, and knows my most recent contact picture. I can’t block him on Monzo so really he can do this multiple times throughout the day.

Therefore I’m stuck with one option - not use the payments with friends option, bullied out by my abusive ex again.

Whilst this is made up off the top of my head it’s not that far fetched an example really. Plus we all have people still in our phone that we perhaps don’t want to know who we have bank accounts with, for a load of reasons. The only way to stop this is to turn off the feature.

This ability to block a contact from the payments tab is a bit of a no brainer really. Well, I think so.

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Even though it’s not possible to do this via the app, I would find it highly unlikely that Monzo customer support are not capable of blocking a contact for someone in this scenario.

@simonb @BethS can you confirm if this is possible?

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We can and have done this for very similar scenarios.

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Fair enough. It’s definitely not clear that this is an option though.

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Slightly off topic, but related, on the ‘Your friends on Monzo screen’, I would really like to have an ability to filter for people to show : I doubt I will ever send an ex-recruitment agent, estate agent or my old-boss (or ex-work colleagues) money, but they are in my contacts as occasionally (once every couple of years!) we do get in contact regarding something…

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This was the scenario I was thinking about, and it’s good to hear Monzo have processes in place.

But my original thought was simply one part. I’d be interested in people’s thoughts on financial abuse and Monzo’s take on how it combats that.

Thanks everyone for sharing on this thread! :heart:

This is an area the Vulnerable Customers team looks after, and we’re always looking for ways to improve our existing support. If you’re ever concerned about yourself, or someone you know you can always message in to our support chat and it will get escalated to us.

To confirm, we do have processes in place for incidences of abuse when they are raised to us, and we do all we can to help from blocking abusive P2P payments, to listening and signposting to professional help.

I’m sure myself and @Danclarke could write up a blog post about this if you’d like to hear more about our work in this area!

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I like this discussion, I don’t personally know anyone who has gone through such a situation and thought the scenario given was quite enlightening. I remember reading discussion on joint accounts before regarding escaping an abuser or regaining money that could be removed by a partner. The Q&A by the vulnerable customers team was really good and I’d love to hear more from them tbh

Edit: @natalieledward just beat me to it! I’d love to have a blog post on this :heartbeat:

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I’ve always thought sharing all contacts is overkill, just to pay people occasionally.
The conversation normally goes, I owe you something, do you have x great payment method? Yes, I do. Oh great, I’ll use it. And that’s it

Basically, it’s the wrong way round. You should have to allow a contact, not block them.

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This

A specific problem for an app only bank is that a customer’s phone may in fact be controlled by another person. If I gave my partner my pin code and password, my partner would basically have total control over my phone and I don’t see how Monzo could detect that kind of abuse. Or one person could manipulate another into authorising a second phone, which would basically allow surveillance of their account.

Would be interesting to see a blog post discussing some of these issues.

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That problem exists with all banks. In a controlling/abusive relationship they will get your login details, keep your card, see your bank statements

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But if you don’t opt into this other features (e.g. monzo.me ) don’t work.

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Thanks for picking this up. I was feeling awful because a really interesting discussion was taking place around a genuinely innocent question on the other thread and it felt hijacked.

I’d love a Monzo blog post on how the bank supports those who reach out for assistance in this way. It’s a hidden issue, hidden in plain sight often, with people often scared or confused about their options.

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I really don’t get your logic, a phone call or email would do. Normally the only help that could be given is after they leave the abuser.
It’s not being a hero and it’s not the job of the government to legislate on every single issue

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