Monzo Community Engagement

Over here, @cookywook asked us how we’d like to engage with the future of Monzo’s paid plans. On that thread, I said:

I’ve spent some time thinking this over. And I think we need to have a broader conversation about the Monzo Community and what it’s for.

The Community was great in its early days. Tom would pop on and have a chat. We’d have weekly Q&As. We’d know most of what was going on.

But Monzo is significantly bigger now and things don’t work the same. And the current conversation over Monzo Plus has, I think, exposed - but not caused - some of the fault lines in the current model.

If the current model is broken, it’s time to fix it. Here are some ideas:

Do a Mozilla

Let’s start by looking at the Mozilla Open Design project. It was 2016 and Mozilla wanted to rebrand. They took a radical step - to do it in the open and involve their community. They published what they were trying to do, made it clear that they were not looking for free design work and that there would be no votes. But they kept their community updated at every step of the way: from asking questions of their early principles, down to short lists to choices they didn’t make and not only the final result but also what came next.

Mozilla have four steps in their open design framework: Ideation*, Conception, Refinement, Guidance. Perhaps Monzo could do similar? And let’s not constrain this to visual design - let’s think of it as designing a financial control centre - so architecture as well as furnishings.

Under this model, engagement on paid accounts might have started early. When there was an idea, but before there was a name. Some blog posts around what strategic problems Monzo is looking to solve, some questions for the Community. Some decisions made. Then we move on to the next steps. What might a paid account for Monzo look like? What value proposition should there be for Monzo and for the customer? What names for the product might there be? And so on, working in the open until you reach a conclusion.

This isn’t about giving the Community a vote. It’s about being committed to Radical Transparency. Building engagement. Sharing research, insight and progress.

Commit and Put People On Point

Community needs commitment and discipline. When it was a start-up, it was the best way to promote, get press and to market - for a minimal outlay. The founders ‘got it’ and it came naturally. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone (and that’s not a bad thing - everyone is different overall).

So now it needs some conscious focus. It needs the right mix of people and the right approach within Monzo. I worry a bit that this shouldn’t all fall on the shoulders of product marketers. Indeed, marketing and community are actually quite different. So you need the right person with the right aptitude in every squad and make them your ‘community person’. That doesn’t need to be a new job - just someone (like a @Bruno) who will lead on community engagement in addition to their day job.

Scare Yourselves: Redouble the Radical Transparency

Lots of corporate folk will be reading the above and going ‘what about our proprietary data?’ ‘what about our market research?’ ‘what about our ideas? ‘What if our competitors know them?!!’.

Here’s my challenge: what would happen if your competitors did know? If you’re working at a competitor bank, what would you want to do differently if you knew what Monzo was up to? More importantly what could you do differently?

Similarly, if you’re at Monzo and you know the plans for HSBC, Lloyds and Starling for the next 3 years, how much will that change what you do? Do you have confidence in your own path or do you change?

My advice: Scare yourself. Give it a go.

Publish More

And extend the radical transparency elsewhere. Publish more. We love the geeky insight that Monzonauts brings into the forum on how Mastercard and other network operate. We read about regulation and what banks are being asked to do. Publish, openly, your responses to Government or FCA consultations. Hell, before you publish ask the Community for our view. And send in two: one for Monzo and one on behalf of the Community - crowdsourced from the Community (be it the forum, Facebook, Twitter…)

Test and iterate

These ideas might not be the right ones. But there will be something that fits. Let’s test some out on a project. It might work, it might not. Let’s give it a go and either bank it or fix it.

We, the Community, Need to Step Up

Finally, this isn’t all about Monzo. It’s about us and our conduct.

If things are to change then we need commitment from the Community. It means that we need to acknowledge that Monzo has grown up. We need to accept that Monzo is a commercial endeavour and that it isn’t a democracy. And that transparency doesn’t equal voting. Nor does it mean that we have a right to information (indeed - this form of engagement is a privilege and we need to cherish it).

Finally, we need to accept that sometimes Monzo will need to make difficult decisions - and that we won’t always be happy with all of them.

These are my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours. :hot_coral_heart:


If we stick to this, the community will be more positive and become a useful repository of (indirect) help and therefore a huge asset to Monzo - during the changes due to growing pains.


I applaud this thinking. I agree with everything that’s said and it’s good there is at least one example you can cite here.

I’m aware many consider me to be negative and aggressive with my comments, but they always come from a place to challenge things in the hope they will be better for everyone moving forward.

So I love this thinking, taking a step back to find a new direction is hard but I for one and open to embracing this bold new feature! Vote for Peter! VOTE FOR PETER!! (sorry, I may have gotten carried away there)


Well this has taken an unexpected turn.


I think the coral crew should get more responsibilities and be brought in the know a bit more.

Lets face it you guys are forum folk through and through, you all regularly give inputs/feedback etc so wouldnt it go a long way to solve the disconnect if you were given more fire power?

For example you all could be added to a slack channel with the various team leads and contacts, similar to scrum calls you can sit in make your notes on statuses and updates and then once the staff members make their update posts you guys can come along and pick up the pieces to answer any remaining questions to the best of your ability

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I don’t think anyone apart from monzo employees should be taking that role of divulging information.

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We have a slack channel where we can talk to staff but it’s very much up to staff how much they want to share, which is as it should be. Not everything is ready to be divulged publicly but we often ask if anyone can post a clarification or an update, and someone normally does


If thats the case then pay them for their time and bring them in as employees :eyes:

Fair enough i suppose… not everyone has the same values in this regard around this all i suppose and we just need to be even more thankful for those that bother themselves to do it

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it depends if theres anything they can say so i dont think saying ‘bother’ is very helpful

You know what i mean.

Saying something along the lines of “Sorry we cant really say anymore on this” or “this hasnt been fully agreed yet” will 9 times out of 10 appease the people on here

Love this train of thought.

I think there’s so much power within the forum, if it’s both used in the right way, and people in it behave in the right way too.

Conscious thought about what the ‘purpose’ of the forum is, I think, will lead to a better strategy about using it.

At my place of work, we have ‘champions’ for various topics (sustainability, charitable links, etc etc) that people take on as part of their job, and each and every employee has a few “non job role” specific responsibilities, that each employee designs, around some of the focus areas our business has. (which is hard to write in a super non specific way?!)

E.g. - becoming Carbon Neutral is a big thing for my business right now - so we each have a commitment around this topic to either help make this happen, or some other tangible thing in the same arena. Works really well.

So while my job might be Cat Confinement Specialist, I have a ‘Change’ related committment that I’m given the space to do.

I think that works really well for allowing the team to really design their own path in these sorts of areas.

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More’s the pitty. I don’t know why Monzo sees becoming massive as a great goal to have in and of itself. I’m not sure that a large company can engange well with its community, and that sucks.

you trap cats expertly? :scream:


Well said, Peter

Actually it’s more of a hobby. I do it in my free time, though the Cats are smarter than I am

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Hi Peter! I’ve said this in other places too but I’ll repeat it here: thanks for taking the time to get all these thoughts down and for sharing them with us. I appreciate the care that goes into your posts and they’re always written in a thoughtful and non-blaming way. So cheers!

I think you’re right. This forum worked super well when Monzo and the userbase was smaller. It was very easy to be highly responsive and involve the community in everything we did. Now we’re much bigger, and doing more, and I think that means that community engagement looks different. And that’s for lots of reasons: we have more teams, lots of things are being worked on at once, there’s increased Press scrutiny, and we have many many times the number of customers we did.

For some things, the old approach still works as well as ever. For Monzo Labs and other things we’ve built ‘out in the open’, we’ve worked closely with our community and got a lot of value from that. But, without focussing on Plus too much, there’s other things we’re doing where engaging the community is more challenging. (I’ll reply to the thread about how we communicate on Plus with some more detail after this).

Internally, I’m looking for more support for the forum. Hopefully I’ll have more news to share by the end of the month on that. And yes, ideally every squad would have someone responsible for community engagement - but frankly, I’m not sure that’s realistic - and I wouldn’t want anyone to engage in a way they didn’t find valuable.

Thank you for saying this. I think we need to become comfortable with the fact that we won’t always agree. We’re building things for > 3.5m people now, and that’s not the same as building something for your most engaged super users. What’s tough is when those differences become a source of discomfort or - very rarely - hostility. And it only takes getting burnt once to make the forum seem a scary place.

And I think it’s sensible for the forum to be one source of many, in the wider landscape of rigorous user testing, etc.

But what I take from your Mozilla example is that there’s value in being very up front about the strategy. Our community might not always agree with a specific thing we’re doing or building, but I’d love it if we were sure you always at least understood the why.

This is an interesting way of looking at it. I don’t think the purpose of the forum has really changed that much over time - it’s still a place for us to talk to our community so we can build a bank that works for everyone - but maybe what’s changing is the how. I don’t think we’d go to our community today for something like the foreign ATM fees vote, for example.


3 posts were split to a new topic: Coral Crew Chat


These are great ideas!

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Perhaps this latter point is the key one. As Monzo grows, the forum does need to adapt and change.

Maybe removing the ‘product announcements’ and blog reposts from the main forum is one step? Give them a more ‘owned by Monzo’ feel than they have at present?

I guess from my experience in a growing company, a clear communication strategy, that includes the forum as a key element, needs to be considered. What messaging goes where, what feedback loops are required and how do they work? That sort of thing. A step back to consider all of it is likely needed, and would have to be something that Monzo drive and own.

I am NOT suggesting Monzo should ‘run’ this forum, the Coral Crew do an amazing job at present, but the level of differing engagement across parts of Monzo (some good some bad) and the wild presumptions that inevitably start floating around after any brief mention of something new (a good sign of a passionate community) do seem to be generating more noise these days.

I wish I had a clearer suggestion!