Monzo’s central pitch is that it’s not like an ordinary bank, and that it aims to be a financial hub or market that directs users to hopefully helpful products and services from insurance to money transfers to gas/electric, and hopefully have this all accessible from the Monzo’s app.
The thing is all the other banks are vertically integrated for a reason… It’s profitable. That’s why you have Santander mortgages, savings, insurance, loans, ISA’s etc… and more or less the same at Barclays at least when it comes to retail banking offers.
My concern is that to act as a financial hub they’re literally at the mercy of third party integration, where either you make an API available for other businesses to build their offers for monzo’s to resell or the other way around where you use their API to integrate their offers in the monzo’s app, this can be slow and difficult process that may take years to see any meaningful traction and it’s definitely less profitable to resell someone else’s offer than providing your own, but in the long run it can be much more scalable and potentially more profitable.
Only this financial marketplace integration effort takes time, lots of it, and time is money. I think this is why they are starting to make direct financial services and offers e.g. monzo loans, available to try and slow down the rate of capital bleed and show some sort of profit, which is difficult because Monzo’s needs more customers (profitability will only occur at scale) to do that but requires more investment to support the growth and more operational capital to sustain it, hence the recent crowdfunding.
Tom Bloomfield mentioned they want to focus on building this marketplace but I think it’s a mistake not to have Monzo have its own offers as well.
Monzo needs to offer everything from loans to pet insurance.
I also think it’s a shame that monzo is so closely mentioned as a app only bank suited to millennials… There’s a lot of traditional banking customers that prefer to do their banking online, rather than trying to squint at a phone. Yes, banking notifications are great on your phone, but most people I know use a web browser to look at their finances, not a phone or tablet. Monzo’s online functionality is terribly limited, it can’t be too difficult to offer the same functionality on a web browser.
Monzo’s customer service is great, but people’s access to banking and finances is so critical that most friends interested, immediately switch off when they learn there’s no call centre, sometimes people just want human reassurance, instead of text messages, monzo need to provide that.
In short I think monzo needs to focus on its long term goals of acting like a financial marketplace, but in the interim it needs to be a bit more like a standard retail and business bank and even be a little boring, a bit less risky, and be an appealling Banking solution for everyone and not just niche millennials in London that are never to far from their phones, who’s biggest trick so far is splitting the coffee bill. They must widen their appeal.