Monzo investor card - design concept (By Brice Corbin)

Just to be clear, our current setup is 100% intentional.

There are some easy-to-miss benefits in using good old OCR embossed type. One is to make the card camera-friendly (already commented before, maybe not that important of a reason anymore). It also makes instantly obvious what’s the front face of the card, which is important when you need the slot-in the card in an ATM or POS (even though some machines have now readers in both sides). Another one is that in some places (this happens abroad mostly) having raised numbers in a card acts as a way of saying “this is a real banking card” (I never got to understand where this originally came from, maybe to protect from criminals who clone cards?). To give you an example, my bank in Spain would use non-embossed really nice looking card numbers and you wouldn’t believe the number of times I got my card rejected (a couple times in airplanes) because of this reason, people saw my card as something that couldn’t be trusted… funny enough that bank now uses embossed numbers again.

What we need to figure out now is if these reasons are not that strong enough any more and we rather take the trade-off and go for a better looking card accepting that we might be making it slightly worse for certain use cases. We also need to consider if people will understand that Monzo is a bank if our card looks “too different” from other cards. A great thing about this is that with other players pushing the envelope in this space customers and retailers are getting more comfortable at using and trusting different kind of cards so that would also give us more freedom to do nice iterations without breaking the function for the sake of the form.

These kind of trade-offs are what the job is about. A great thing about Monzo though is that we’re now large enough to be able to produce a small-ish batch of cards (even though they’re still painfully slow to prototype and produce) with a different setup, give them to customers and learn from their actual experiences, think about it like some sort of “beta program” where you can sign up and get a futuristic-looking card that might give you trouble from time to time like any other beta software.

I’m so excited about this!