Receiving international payments with Monzo

Letting you receive international payments to your Monzo account is one of the items on The Big List. Right now it’s not very reliable, but we’re working to improve it in the future.

Our payment scheme manager James has explained how it works now, and what we’re doing to fix it.

Sadly it doesn’t look like we’re going to meet our Big List deadline and be able to bring them to you before the end of the month :disappointed:


Blog post says;

We’ll do that by using NatWest as our ‘correspondent bank’, which means we’ll agree to set up a connection that lets other banks send international payments to Monzo, through NatWest’s existing SEPA connections.

Just wondering why NatWest? Why not Transferwise who are already partnering Monzo?
Or why not build your own infrastructure… I just want to understand the reasons and potential obstacles for Monzo to do this without reliance on (in @anon23935806 words) legacy rust.


Disappointing to hear it’s missed deadline :disappointed:

Didn’t know international payments were such a mess with “routes” and everything. Sounds almost as bad as the telephone network.

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Totally agree with you @glasgow :pensive: ,

But… I’m also pleased Monzo have been open about the difficulties achieving this and what the next steps are.
The big list was very ambitious! When we expect transparency we also have to accept some disappointment when things don’t go quite as we expected, I’d still prefer it this way by a mile :rocket:!

I’d be curious if Monzo are looking to drop NatWest and accept Euro payments direct in the future as it sounds like additional complexity that’s not needed and another point of failure from a legacy system.



:warning: Warning - pure guessing, I actually don’t know :monkey:

I think international payments work a bit like a routing tables. I believe most of those systems work in a way that each bank has a (not very high) number of partners and when you are sending payments there is algorithm that tries to find the shortest path to Bank X through the partners and partners of partners etc. (essentially a graph problem) So that means that Monzo would be essentially be a partner of NatWest and therefore discover-able on the network.


What exchange rate will be used if currently sending money using a generated IBAN?

Can I still open a transferwise account a move money from there right? Why cannot this be integrated directly into Monzo given that you already have a collaboration in place?


It’s the sending bank that decides this isn’t it?

Actually if they send it in non-GBP surely Monzo would have to have its own rate to exchange it. I am assuming a sending bank can offer sending it in a currency different to the default currency of the senders account however in some countries that is ridiculously expensive (like in Bulgaria for sure (fyi it is cheaper to exchange some euro at fx bureau, open a bank account in euro, deposit the exchanged amount and then send it to somewhere else in EUR than send it as EUR from your BGN account, or at least that was the case 5-6 years ago when I last needed that service)).


I’m pretty sure it’s not. The sending bank will send over (for instance) €100. Monzo should eventually receive the €100 and credit some amount of :pound: using an exchange rate they determine. At least that’s how it seems to work with legacy banks.

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Disappointing to read that the deadline will be missed, however I’ve not as yet, ever received an international transfer (although I’ve received many intergalactic transfers, but that’s another story) so this is not a deal breaker.

I’m more encouraged with Monzo’s transparency surrounding this topic.

Thank you for letting us know that the deadline will be missed. Ambitious goals are sometimes too ambitious but as a supporter of Monzo I thank you and will wait with anticipation for the next blog post suggesting that international payments are more reliable.

Surprised to see that we will be dependant on Natwest… Doesn’t feel very “bank of the future”

I’ll have to stick to sending to RBS and then transferring over for now.


RBS/NatWest… What do you gain?

Nothing, but at least it is “reliable” and is less likely to be returned to sender.

I think it’s impossible to judge what’s going to be more or likely to succeed than something that doesn’t exist yet!The NatWest thing is somewhere in the future.

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The blog post gave me the impression that inbound international payments to Monzo accounts are unreliable. I rely on international payments to cover all of my UK outgoings so I have to stick with what works for the moment.


Fair enough, I read it that introducing the NatWest tie up was a short term measure to clear the current mess up a bit. Either way, with that measure of dependence, I agree you’d need to be really, really sure of things to change over.

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Where does it say this is a short term measure?

Monzo are using a third party to send international payments instead of doing it themselves. Now they want to use a different third party to receive international payments. Such a relationship takes

‘a fair bit of paperwork and some technical changes we both need to make, but we should be able to start testing this internally in the next few months.’

I feel it is the opposite. Why waste months (from today) signing up with Natwest to use them as a correspondent bank, making the technical changes and releasing this update to consumers (probably at the end of this year or early next year), to then ditch them next year? I’m not saying Monzo will never be independent for international payments, but I’m sure that would be at least a couple of years in the future.


Maybe they’re waiting to get direct access to SEPA? Hopefully someone at Monzo can explain if the NatWest thing is only a temporary measure.

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