I’m Rich, and I’m the product manager working on the new paid account. You might recognise me from Monzo Points, Lending and the original Marketplace Beta work in early 2018.
Tom’s on holiday, so I’m here to give a quick update on what we’ve been working on this week, and some answers to your questions from last time.
Some things we’ve thought about, decided and done.
We’ve narrowed the scope to two fixed tiers. To be clear, this is for now. We’re doing this because it helps to have constraints and massively simplify things. We’ve seen examples of this working well elsewhere and we don’t want to reinvent the wheel if this is how our customers already think about premium accounts. It won’t be for everyone, perhaps including some of you, but we think that’s ok.
What else we’ve been doing:
We’ve been putting together our dream “plans”; these are combinations of features with a consistent narrative, that feel Monzo, and are good value for money at a sensible price point. These are based on feedback from thousands of people. We shared these internally yesterday, and will be doing some iteration. Our main criteria is that we feel proud to ship these. Before you ask, we’re not ready to share these yet
We’ve been planning our next rounds of testing; that’s usability testing (is the experience clear? does it work as expected?) and card testing (to gather qualitative feedback on how people feel about the new card designs).
We’ve got started on the underlying infrastructure; Tim and Constantijn spent some time working out what to re-use of the old Plus infrastructure, and what to build from scratch. We’re leaning towards the latter.
Some answers to your questions.
You asked us about why we still think this is the right thing to work on:
We have questioned the premise. And we’re not just building this because others do. Both legacy banks, and newer players do this, and the offerings are valued by many many people; the research we’ve done confirms this. We also accept that this might not be for everyone.
We fundamentally believe there’s a role for a paid account from Monzo. It won’t be a random bundle of things. We also don’t believe it undermines the marketplace vision (more on that below), nor do we worry about it confusing the product offering. We do agree that insurance can complicate things (if you have it already, or don’t want it), and so we’re currently leaning towards offering one of the plans without insurance.
You asked us about how this relates to our Marketplace vision:
This team’s scope doesn’t include building “the marketplace”, but it’s still part of the wider Monzo vision. We are working with partners to provide features like insurance, but we won’t be doing this in a pick and modular way right now. To some people this is better. They trust us to pick a provider, ensure it meets their needs, and actively prefer not having to choose themselves.
You asked us about how we’re thinking about what to charge for, and how we feel about ‘paywalling’ valuable features:
We’re open to charging for new and advanced controls and insights. We admire what You Need A Budget, Emma Pro, Splitwise Pro and other paid tools do. These things won’t always cost us lots of money to provide, but we think that’s fine. Many non-financial apps have paid tiers (like Strava, Duolingo, myfitnesspal, VSCO, or Bumble) that provide sufficient value that people are willing to pay for them. We don’t plan to remove existing features, and we may choose to add these new features to the free account too, just with restrictions. We’re working on some principles that help decide what we should and shouldn’t consider including in the paid account.
Also, thanks for sharing comments like these . At the end of the day we’re a bunch of real people just trying to build the best thing for you and Monzo.
Hey, I just made a small edit to my original post we’re actually calling these plans internally at the moment. You’re correct; it means there’s a lower cost and a higher cost premium plan, each with a fixed group of features.
Got to this part, and read the rest of the update as if you were Troy McClure from the Simpsons - It was surprisingly an upbeat read after that.
My other comment seems to have been about a passage in your post that you’ve removed.
Basically, I was just going to query what you were going to do differently when it comes to calculating “value for money”…
A brief back and forth with Jonas when Plus first launched, showed that Monzo genuinely valued the coloured card, different URL and “swag” at £6 per month - I’m not sure how that figure was reached, but it would seem to only be worth that to a very very small section of Monzo supporters.
What is being done differently to work out what people want (and at what cost)?
This is where I get the most nervous as I see basic features that haven’t been invented yet disappearing behind a paywall. I guess (in my head) it’s the argument about whether I’m dealing with a bank or an App developer.
I’m biased to the extent that I don’t pay for any apps on a monthly fee model and I’ve never paid for a bank account so I know I’m acting to type. I also realise that there may be some super complex widgetry that takes a lot of effort to develop and justifies the cost so I’m not completely blind to that possibility.
Thank you, this was just the sort of update I was hoping for very transparent and detailed.
I agree there has been a lot of anger from people in the Plus threads (myself included), and I apologise if it’s had a negative effect on Monzo employees. It stems mainly I think from the lack of clarity/differing responses people have had re cancellations more than anything. I don’t think anyone could question the effort you guys put into this. It’s not gone well, but I’m sure you’re all working over time to make it work, and I’m sure you guys will make this work eventually
I’m definitely open to the idea of ‘plans’, as like you said that’s what I’m used to and would expect from a Plus account. Also don’t see the issues others have with paid features - I would have no issue paying extra to improve my budgeting/savings with tools. I do think these would have to be brand new features though, rather than putting existing features behind a paywall. One suggestion I have (which I mentioned in the Trending spending thread, it would be awesome to see the average spending/savings of people within my area so I could do a comparison and maybe set my budgets if they’re way off others.
I think the cancellations issue still needs to be addressed, but this update looks pretty exciting. Looking forward to hearing more!
This is what I suspected Monzo would do and I think it’s a terrible move. Monzo is basically going to become a freemium product. I understand charging for insurance products, metal cards, etc. but budgeting features and spending analytics is probably Monzo’s most well known, well respected feature. To read that you’re even considering putting advanced budgeting features behind a paywall is extremely disappointing.
Hi Rich, thank you for a comprehensive response which addresses many of the points raised in the previous threads.
As others above have noted, this is the troubling part. Putting budgeting features behind a paywall stands basically counter to the The Monzo Mission, which goes into much detail about how Monzo wants to help the disadvantaged, as part of a wide-ranging social mission. Please don’t paywall budgeting features.
Thank you for the update and apologies in advance for this but…
From what you’re saying it sounds like you’re going down exact the same route that the last team did - which from what I saw nobody liked and as we all know didn’t end well at all. I’ve been thoroughly involved in all topics about plus so I’m not sure how research shows otherwise but I’m certain you guys know more than I do
That being said. From this update I’m now certain that Monzo Plus will never be the groundbreaking marketplace that was originally promoted, not to mention some of the paywall feature things you’re proposing don’t sit well with me at all. So I’ve therefore come to the realisation that Plus is sadly not for me.
I understand that some people will like this and that’s fine, but I’ve just sent my message to cancel my subscription.
I wish you all the best for what you’re building, I hope it works out!
This part concerns me. New and improved insights are something customers have been asking for almost since Monzo launched - meaning the expectation is that an improvement of insights will still be part of the core product.
I said it in a previous thread, I’ll say it again now. Monzo’s stated aim of “Making money work for everyone” becomes false when you put ‘advanced controls and insights’ behind a paywall (emphasis mine).
The only way I would be happy with having advanced insights behind a paywall would be if instead of building your only solution to partnered with YNAB to create a direct integration, and if it was part of a package which would provide enough value that I felt it was better than paying for YNAB directly. And I must say here, I don’t pay for YNAB at the moment because it feels too much for what it is. So this is probably a very hard target for you to hit.