Monzo US needs a killer feature

I took a couple extra hot coral cards from the SF event to give to friends. Most of my friends were pretty hesitant, mostly because they don’t see a need for another bank account. Everyone is using American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserved. This is mostly because of the benefits. I’ve been thinking about ways Monzo US could entice US customers.

Ideas:

  • Offer debit card rewards, (I know this is hard and it’s tough to beat credit cards, since they make more money on the interchange), the Chase Sapphire Reserve became super popular in the US in the early days, because chase offered 100k free points.
  • Offer a cool benefit, Priority Pass or something without the need for a credit card could be cool. Especially if you could do it without any annual fees.
  • Travel Credit
  • Get interest on the money you keep in your checking account.
  • The ability to use one card but have multiple numbers, used for each transaction. Kinda like how the Apple credit card does it. That way if your card information gets stolen you don’t need to get a new card in the mail.

Anyone else have ideas that would make people switch?

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This deserves a bump back to the top and hopefully more people will see it and give some thoughts.

I can’t speak for US users, but I can say that when Monzo was at the same early stages in the UK I got the same vibe as you from friends and regular people. They mostly weren’t interested and many were concerned at the thought of using a startup for banking.

As an early adopter you are keen to try something new and interesting, whereas the vast majority of people are not and prefer to stick to what they know. I recall when I first suggested Mondo to friends I got responses like “it’s not even a bank, why would I trust them with my money?”, “I already bank with X and it has an app already”, “what do I get out of it?” etc etc. That’s where Monzo is in the US right now as they are still very much early adopter and pre-early mainstream.

I think Monzo managed to overcome those early mainstream fears here without ever dropping a killer feature. There are probably loads of opinions as to how they succeeded but personally I think they did it by combining a very slick user experience (appealing to the smartphone generation and the tech-savvy in a way that incumbents did not with their clunky apps) along with a mission and a set of zeitgeisty ethics that everyone wanted to support and be a part of. This and of course the magic ingredients of behavioural psychology (waiting lists/you can’t have this) and virality/peer pressure, meant that these ordinary folks suddenly wanted to have it even though it was basically less than what they already got from their old bank.

Once Monzo had secured this core of evangelist customers and early adopters they padded out the product and the marketing to appeal more to the mainstream and it has just kept on growing and growing.

Most of the people who responded to me with criticism in 2016 are now regular Monzo users.

If there was a killer feature out there I’m sure Monzo would love to hear about it and use to supercharge their growth, but I personally don’t think they really need one. All of the little things listed above make it very valuable, more than any cashback or gimmick is worth.

Just my thoughts, others are most welcome…

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Doesn’t the Chase Sapphire Reserve have an annual fee of 450 bucks? Monzo is free. I’m not sure how fair it is to compare the two.

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I do think that enilsen16 is right with a few other comments:

  1. US has been very credit card focused and not debit card focused - I use wifi tap features in my credit cards and usually get strange looks from people who have not seen that before - where it was more common in the UK.
  2. Don’t discount the use of credit card benefits. Amex has gotten me into restaurants where reservations are impossible. Chase Sapphire Reserve (while expensive) comes with VIP benefits that are hard to match

True, but with the Travel Credit and other perks you end up breaking even.