So why haven't we got Joint Account parity?

Seeing this from @duncang (and not being able to get @davidwalton’s plaintive wail out of my head) I thought it’d be worth discussing just why Monzo hasn’t reached some form of parity for joint accounts. Especially as much of the parity being asked for (like overdrafts and paid accounts) would raise them money.

To that end, here are some hypotheses. What do we think? And Monzo folk, do tell us what the reason is, please. :pray:

Hypothesis 1: behind the scenes joint accounts are a mess. They were cobbled together quickly and in a way that’s not extensible. So that needs to be fixed first.

Hypothesis 2: analysis shows an insufficient market for joint accounts - or not enough return on investment

Hypothesis 3: joint accounts done properly would lead to unacceptable ongoing costs - either for the technology or in terms of support.

Hypothesis 4: momentum, received wisdom and/or bias - e.g. there’s a belief that there’s insufficient demand for the product, a shared (but not proven) narrative in the business that joint accounts are not important and/or bias arising from a lack of Monzo staff wanting joint accounts themselves.

Hypothesis 5: Monzo wants to do it, but there’s no bandwidth so, even though the business case would otherwise stack up, there’s just no resource to make it happen.

Hypothesis 6: there are undisclosed regulatory or legal issues preventing joint accounts from reaching parity.

Hypothesis 7: Lack of capability. Monzo just doesn’t know how to develop and manage joint products (like overdrafts for example).

Hypothesis 8: Joint accounts aren’t in Monzo’s private road map. Instead, the firm wants to redefine the concept and create shared pots or multiuser accounts. Or is concerned that an account for two people is exclusionary to those in relationships of greater than two people. Or doesn’t want to deal with revenue related issues around Plus for joint accounts…

Any others?

I’m not saying that any of these are true - I’m just trying to find the reason why this seemingly isn’t important.

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What do we think?

  • Hypothesis 1: behind the scenes joint accounts are a mess.
  • Hypothesis 2: analysis shows an insufficient market for joint accounts - or not enough return on investment
  • Hypothesis 3: joint accounts done properly would lead to unacceptable ongoing costs - either for the technology or in terms of support.
  • Hypothesis 4: momentum, received wisdom and/or bias
  • Hypothesis 5: Monzo wants to do it, but there’s no bandwidth
  • Hypothesis 6: there are undisclosed regulatory or legal issues
  • Hypothesis 7: Lack of capability
  • Hypothesis 8: Joint accounts aren’t in Monzo’s private road map.
  • Something else (explain below)

0 voters

And here’s a cheeky anonymous poll for Monzonauts to tell us why:

  • Hypothesis 1: behind the scenes joint accounts are a mess.
  • Hypothesis 2: analysis shows an insufficient market for joint accounts - or not enough return on investment
  • Hypothesis 3: joint accounts done properly would lead to unacceptable ongoing costs - either for the technology or in terms of support.
  • Hypothesis 4: momentum, received wisdom and/or bias
  • Hypothesis 5: Monzo wants to do it, but there’s no bandwidth
  • Hypothesis 6: there are undisclosed regulatory or legal issues
  • Hypothesis 7: Lack of capability
  • Hypothesis 8: Joint accounts aren’t in Monzo’s private road map.
  • Something else

0 voters

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I think 5 with a sprinkling of 6.

Technically, they’ve proven they can use accounts + pots in different ways through the introduction of business accounts (multi user), with tax pots (special type of pot).

I’m fairly certain flex is treated as a special type of ‘pot’, with each purchase opening a new flex agreement ‘pot’ all to itself!

So given those things, I don’t think it’s capability, technology, or limitations of their stack.

I guess there’s possibly an element of “how do we treat joint accounts that have two different typed of users”, which probably fits more into 6 than anything.

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That Mozinaut poll isn’t anonymous :wink:. But you knew that already :stuck_out_tongue:

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What would the legal or regulatory issues be?

(I just threw everything out there that I could think of, so it felt like a theoretical possibility even if I couldn’t think of a reason why it would be the case).

:scream: it was genuinely intended to be.

(One of me or Discourse is broken. Closed until I can confirm which).

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I think it’s a mixture of 5 and 2. Monzo started as a bank made by younger people in London unlikely to be in the sort of relationships that would make joint accounts their primary accounts.

They continue to aim at that market and I think even their research might end up bias towards that kind of lifestyle. The idea you might combine finances is probably a bit remote to a single 20 something renting a flat in London.

Results of an MSE poll for reference:

Joint bank account use by couples (24,046 votes)

Under-35s:

  • 21% have a joint bank account for everything.
  • 56% have a joint account just for bills.
  • 18% have totally separate finances.

Age 35-49:

  • 37% have a joint bank account for everything.
  • 41% have a joint account just for bills.
  • 17% have totally separate finances.

Age 50+:

  • 54% have a joint bank account for everything.
  • 29% have a joint account just for bills.
  • 12% have totally separate finances.
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It’s at the bottom of a priority list.

The joint account from Monzo is still better than anywhere else so they are only lagging behind themselves.

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I’m not sure that’s true. I’m not in the market for a joint account, but I think the lack of an overdraft would be a deal breaker, if I were to be wanting to pay bills from it.

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Have I suddenly lost my job? Monzonauts can’t vote on this!

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Sorry Bee!

I’d tried to make it anonymous, then it said that it wasn’t. So I closed it because I didn’t want to run the risk :joy:

(I don’t think you’ve been sacked).

Edit: reopened! It should be private now? :crossed_fingers:

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Agreed, I think for a few reasons but overdraft being the main one, the Monzo joint account isn’t suitable for a lot of couples to make their main account. The fact it shows as secondary to the main account tells me it’s not really meant to be used like that anyway.

1 Like

No worries! For (2):

Hypothesis 2: analysis shows an insufficient market for joint accounts - or not enough return on investment

I will point out that dark mode will obviously not bring any return on investment :wink:

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Depends if you count the support time needed for COps to respond to forum members writing in and asking ‘when can we have dark mode’ :stuck_out_tongue:

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You can switch it so it shows first

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I’m surprised so many younger people still buy into the joint (yuck, can we change the naming convention to shared?) banking paradigm.

But I think it’s notable how many use it just for bills, and that adds weight to the notion that perhaps shared pots might be the better idea to work on. I know N26 went down that route with shared spaces and it’s one I’m a fan of.

I also think the use cases for a shared pot goes way beyond the use case of those who use joint accounts just for bills as well. Shared pots are the future of shared banking in my view. Shared accounts are a legacy thing that I suspect will eventually die off.

My guess is it’s all 1, that it was hacked together as an MVP, and it’s a mess architecturally to pick apart

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What’s your objection to joint? (I don’t see it :eyes:)

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I suspect that the answer is, approximately, “All of the above”.

If there were a compelling business case for it then someone would have put resourced behind this already. And if it were easy from a tech perspective then I suspect some enterprising Monzonaut would have implemented this already (and I suspect that there’s enough business / pricing / regulatory stuff involved that this has to be a cross-team approach, rather than a weekend-hack-project approach).

I suspect that combining the (likely not small) parts of the codebases that do Joint Accounts and Plus/Premium is a complex, grungy, hard, and thankless task. Once any codebase is of a sufficient size all the easy paths have been taken. And when two large features have been developed in isolation and then require to be combined… there’s usually a bunch of blocking decisions that get in the way and take a lot of time to sort out. It’s like combining Duplo with Lego.

I still want it badly, though. And I think Monzo are short-changing themselves if they’re making product direction decisions purely on a quantitative basis, rather than taking into account qualitative aspects like Joint Account parity.

I think that it was Vonnegut who wrote “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.”

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I think that the phrasing of the poll might lead to a distinction without a difference. What constitutes a “bill” in a joint account context is important - clearly it’s more than a handful of direct debits. For instance, the “food bill” is a bill, but that requires a debit card, whether in person or online. Or how about the multitude of “bills” that you have to pay for children?

Personally I technically fall into the “have a joint account just for bills” category - but with the important caveats that (1) “bills” is really “all shared expenses”, and (2) both by total amount and by number of transactions, these shared expenses domainate ten-to-one.

2 Likes