Magstripe changes

Hey guys,

Just got back from a wonderful 2 week vacation in Japan where I’ve been using my Monzo card for various purchases.

Japan’s one of those places like the States that still uses Magstripes for card purchases pretty much everywhere. Whilst Monzo supports it, you may be aware that you have to toggle the feature on as a security feature which turns itself off after 24 hours.

This is actually rather annoying in my opinion. Especially since to do so you need to have an internet connection which is not always possible, especially due to expensive roaming charges etc. You either need to remember or find some WiFi, login and then pay which is not great. I found myself reaching for my Curve card more often (linked to Monzo) to not worry about this.

My suggestion to make the experience a bit sleeker:

Since Monzo already has the infrastructure in place to detect where you are in the world (with welcome notifications), would it not be possible to check the country you are in and check against a flag if the country is still using Magstripe or is primarily Chip/Pin or Contactless and then automatically enable magstripe for the duration of your stay (or make disabling it opt-in rather than opt-out)?

def on_change_country

Would make it much more easy for travellers.

Just my 10 yen.


The magstripe option in Monzo is only needed for using ATMs. Magstripe payments are always enabled.


Still, that’s one extra thing to think about. I was confused to whether it would be for checkout too.

And what about if you’re at an ATM with no WiFi to enable it?

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This is a great idea. There could be something on the ‘Welcome to the country’ page which told you that magstripe ATMs are common in this country and then gives you the option to turn them on for the duration of your trip.

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Interesting idea. I assume you’d still expect to be able to manually enable it for when you don’t have an internet connection on arriving or have location services disable?

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I believe you can always arrange with COps to enable magstripe ATM use for longer than the in-app day.


But that’s causing extra work for Monzo staff, and it isn’t obvious that it’s an option.


I’d argue that as it’s part of the support role, it’s not strictly ‘extra’ work but I understand the point.

Your other point is harder to respond to because while I see what you’re saying, equallyat the same time I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to write down all the forms of help that a help staff can provide so I’m not sure how that would be best addressed.

I guess you’d have to come up with solutions when the problems requiring COp support become apparent.

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I think it depends on the level of COp support required. It would be interesting to know at what point it becomes cheaper to spend some development money as a one-off cost to save recurring COps cost.

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Of course, but I’d argue being able to not use customer support for stuff like enabling magstripe ATM use for longer than the in-app day increases the customer experience.

Also, some people don’t like asking customer support to do stuff like that or don’t know that customer support can do it in the first place.

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This is where it’s good that Monzo is a data driven company. They’ll be recording the stats and will be taking action to fix the common causes of contacting support.

On @benbb’s original point, I agree that a bit of an optional guide to using Monzo in whatever country you land in could be nice. But only Monzo will have the data and insight to understand the cost of building it and whether it’d reduce support interactions.

Cool idea, though!


+1 to improving this. Was just hit by it in barbados. It was very confusing when I landed and tried to take cash out to pay my taxi and it just said “declined”. I had to reach in for my other banks card and get money out. Later, when I had internet, I discovered that it was rejected because of this magstripe lock that I had never heard about…