Monzo as a solution for homlessness

(Alastair Sharpe) #1


The latest news about Monzo now being able to restrict payment recipients based on blocks imposed by the account holder (gambling etc) got me thinking over the weekend. I think one of the reasons people do not donate to homeless people is because they are concerned about the way that money would be spent. I wondered if there is an opportunity here for Monzo to work with charities/organisations for the homeless to assign a card to a recovery plan, restricting the use of that card to transactions in line with the plan. People/the organisation could load funds against those plans and have confidence that they would be spent correctly. It seemed to be an incredibly positive way to use functionality like this, and could also help people to build up a profile of decisions equivalent to a credit profile.

Interested to see what you think!


(#savetheseabass) #2

That line troubles me. Seems to start with the assumption that we have the right to choose how homeless people spend their money. I know some people think that but it’s a dodgy message for a brand to be linked to.
If you want to stop people with alcohol issues spending on alcohol that’s impossible as that would mean banning them from Asda etc and a lot of corner shops. If you want to stop them buying drugs then it means stopping them using ATMs so they can’t have cash.

Great idea to try and encourage more people to help but in reality I’m not convinced


I agree this is a good idea, but problematic for reasons stated.

However I think we have to be clear, we wouldn’t be telling homeless people how to spend their money, we would be telling them how to spend MY money.

If I give someone money I should have the right to say how I want that money spent (just like when giving to a charity).

I have close friends who work with homeless people and they all tell me, never give them money, most of the time they just can’t be trusted to spend it wisely. Give the money to charities who can help them.

(#savetheseabass) #4

If you’ve given it to them it’s their money, not yours anymore.

(Tony, Secret Lemonade Drinker) #5

If I donate to the RSPCA does that mean I can state that the donation should be used to help blind cats and NOT to pay their CEO a ludicrous sum of money? Unfortunately not.

I have to hope they spend my money wisely as (just as @Rat_au_van has said) it’s out of my control once I make the donation.

This suggestion is reminiscent of the proposal (as few years back now) to issue the unemployed vouchers rather than pay them actual cash money, to prevent them “wasting their money” on cigarettes, drugs and big screen TVs etc.


That’s just not true, when you give money to a person you can enter a covenant with that person. “I am giving you this money so that you can use it to better your situation”. If they then spend that money on booze, fags and drugs they have broken that covenant.


Yes actually you can. You can tell the charity i want this money to be used for this purpose only. My wife worked for a charity for a number of years and she hated it when donors put these clauses in.

(#savetheseabass) #8

When I give money it’s because I know they need money. I’d like them to buy something useful but in reality it’s not up to me how someone spends their money in the same way an employer can’t stipulate how you spend an unexpected bonus

(Richard Bairwell) #9

I guess the biggest problem with this is card issuance. Under KYC and all the other regulations, Monzo has to be able to prove they’ve checked the customers name and address: whilst a homeless person may still have a driving licence and/or passport (although this is unlikely), they won’t be at the address listed on it, they won’t be listed on the electoral roll (unless they’ve been at a shelter for some time and it allows registration), won’t have access to a credit record (again, address problems) and Monzo (or another bank) needs a secure place to send the card… And that’s why many homeless people get stuck…

(Alastair Sharpe) #10

Good point Emma, maybe worded incorrectly, the idea is more to give people a way of spending in line with a plan that they have agreed with an organisation for the best outcome, which may also be trying to avoid situations, in a similar way to people are using Monzo across the board to track their own spending etc. It’s not supposed to be dictatorial from the person donating, more an opportunity for someone to define how they want to resolve their situation and for people to support them along that journey. Agree that is a fine line to tread and may be very difficult for an organisation to get behind unless handled well.

(Alastair Sharpe) #11

ah interesting point Richard, I wonder if there would be an opportunity to leverage the charity relationship but I assume there would be difficulties there in terms of representation from the charity perspective and reliance from the perspective of Monzo on any representations like that

(Brian Hunter) #12

As Emma brought up, I have issues with telling people how to spend money given to them, and a real issue with other assuming how it’s best for them to spend that money.

(Alastair Sharpe) #13

Really interested by the response to this as it’s shown a perspective I had not considered, clearly worded badly initially as certainly wasn’t supposed to be dictatorial from the perspective of donations. I guess my thought was that it could be similar to crowd funding of social ventures in that there is a defined objective for people to get behind and support. I can completely understand why people would see it the other way however and that certainly would not be the intention of what is supposed to be a constructive solution.

In response to your message in particular @iptoriga it certainly wasn’t for the donating party to define the spending, more for the person to define how they want to spend it in line with their own plan and for people to then get behind that.

Maybe the wrong approach based on feedback here but I think there is an interesting use case for a fintech to support people in this situation who actively want to get out of it.

(Brian Hunter) #14

It’s always worth throwing ideas out there, there’s no harm or issue with your suggestion.

Not sure what the legal implications are since it’s an actual bank account, so I’m not sure if they can be given to third parties? I don’t think I could set up gambling restrictions on the account in my name, then give it to a friend to use, would be allowed under the Terms and Agreements that I agreed to with Monzo? Not sure how things are with business accounts.

(Leon) #15

That’s a charity and not an individual. Completely different. As least with a charity there should be a paper trail and if your disappointed then a complaints procedure. Not so straightforward with a individual. I guess you could go to the persons AGM and have a moan but I doubt that will get you very far. :yum: