I’m back from holiday. It was lovely, if you were wondering. Sadly it rained. As an Australian in the UK it’s something I should probably come to terms with sooner or later
Here’s an update on what’s happened in our world over the last week:
On engineering… we took the opportunity to decide if we wanted to reuse a lot of the code we used to run Monzo Plus previously, or build something new and more bespoke. Monzo Plus started out quite modular, meaning setting up your subscription and billing were complex - you could have any combination of features. The bundled implementation simplified this, but you could still have more than one bundle. Both of those implementations were built on top of the same system, which we had the option to do also. Complexity comes at a high cost, so we’ve decided to start afresh and build something new. This gives us confidence that it works as expected and makes it easier to onboard engineers in the future.
On shipping product… we’ve made a conscious decision to move slower and add more polish to anything we ship. So you won’t be seeing any early MVP versions in the app before we’re really comfortable that they’re going to be great experiences for you. Thanks for voicing this, it’s a great learning for Monzo and something we hope to apply to future product releases. We’ll share designs and other ideas in here when we think it makes sense.
On freemium concerns… we hear your concerns around what features will be included in our paid subscriptions, so we want to reassure you that Monzo won’t be slowly transforming into a mobile game that blocks actions with incessant ads! And sadly, we won’t help you with online dating services, either. We don’t have enough detail at the moment about what will be included in our paid subscriptions, but we’re working on some principles to help guide this rationale with our customers at the heart of our decisions.
On design… we learned from previous iterations of Monzo Plus that the experience of managing your subscription wasn’t great. So we’re revamping the subscription ‘home’ in the app. Here’s a sneak peek we’re toying with, though we’ll likely play around with this before we settle on something we’re happy with. We’re also ensuring our design framework aligns with the new Monzo navigation we rolled out recently so exploring and using your paid subscription feels intuitive and part of a cohesive Monzo experience.
Where do debit cards come from?
We thought it might be interesting to shine a light on how cards are designed, produced, and ultimately make their way into your wallets, back pockets, and in some cases, washing machines.
There are four key partners involved in getting a debit card from a design file into a piece of plastic (or other material ) that helps you make purchases.
The bank (that’s us): we design the card and it’s our customers who use them.
The card manufacturer: just like it says on the tin, this partner is responsible for producing and shipping the cards we design.
The scheme: a scheme connects merchants and customers to their banks and powers payments. At Monzo we work with Mastercard.
The packaging provider: this partner produces the actual physical packaging that our debit cards arrive in when they’re shipped out to our customers
Step 1: Design
Designing a debit card isn’t as easy as throwing some colours onto a design file and sending it off to be printed. Every card manufacturer has unique specifications and capabilities for what they can do, so we’ll meet with them to understand what’s possible. This process involves user and market research to understand what customers like and how we can differentiate our cards from others. It often involves several designers and stakeholders to make sure we get varying opinions on what is best for customers.
Step 2: Approvals and edits
We work with Mastercard as the scheme that handles our payments, and because their logo is on our card, they have a say in how the card looks as well. Once we’ve got a card design, we need both our scheme and card manufacturer to approve it so all parties involved are happy.
Step 3: Testing samples
Once designs are approved, our card manufacturer will produce a handful of cards to see how they look once they’re printed. Card designs don’t always translate perfectly from design files to physical cards. Colours can look a little different so we test these first with a small run. We usually head to the facility to check these in-person and use this time to check the durability of the cards, making sure things like contactless payments and other features work long after your first purchase.
Step 4: Card order
When we’re happy, we’ll make a large order of debit cards and our manufacturer will get to work producing them. This takes longer than you’d imagine, sometimes up to eight weeks. So it’s pretty important we get the design and specifications right early on in this process.
Step 5: Ship
Once everything is in place, you’ll be able to order a card We receive your order in the Monzo app, which triggers a card to be personalised by our manufacturer with your name and card details. The packaging provider will have already sent the packaging to them, so they’ll drop your personalised card into a package which will then arrive to you in a few days time. Magic!
(Let’s say we’re looking at producing cards made from, say, metal. Does the process change? Not really. Metal cards take longer for a variety of reasons. But for the most part, the process above is quite similar.)
Thanks again for your interest and feedback along the way.