I reviewed my energy needs yesterday and also decided to switch through the link in the current account feed.
The main problem I found was trying work out what my actual energy usage is; by my estimation my current gas/electric use is far below the average usage for the property I rent. I also used a separate price comparison site to compare Bulb against others, it isn’t the cheapest but then many of the cheapest have warnings about poor customer service. Also, Bulb has no exit fees so I figured if it did shoot up in price further down the line I can just switch again.
Would hope as partner integrations develop it becomes easier to switch (not having to enter address/card details as they can be securely provided by Monzo).
To me this feels pretty spammy. Was there some sort of immediate push to “do a partnership deal” and get it into people’s feeds?
I think that “Monzo-approved” partners may not work once you grow beyond the small, enthusiastic, and most importantly trusting early-adopter userbase. I wouldn’t trust my mobile phone provider to suggest the best gas provider to me, or my water provider to advise me on which is the best ISP. The problem is that they might be getting a good referral fee, while I’m not getting the best rate. I don’t think that you can trade on that trust forever.
You mention “maybe put meter readings straight into Monzo”. That sounds laborious. However, it’s probably unfortunately necessary if you want to move beyond spamming feeds. Why? Take gas. You have no way to know how big the person’s house is, the efficiency of their radiators (or is it underfloor heating?), how well their house is insulated, and even how warm they like it. Plus there are other devices consuming gas, like hot water for the washing machine and shower [how many people live there?], and potentially a gas cooker. There are just too many factors for you to make a sensible guess.
I did. It doesn’t answer most of the questions I have. And I’m now almost certainly not going to take advantage of a Monzo current account when it becomes available, which is a real shame.
My understanding was that Monzo planned to make money by charging for credit facilities, not by inserting promotional material into my transaction feed. I also didn’t realise (my fault probably for not reading the Ts&Cs properly) that my transactions would be analysed and used to push ads and marketing to me. I’m very, very uncomfortable with this, it feels creepy. Plus, the way this has been rolled out was clearly not well communicated at the outset - it seems like it was just ‘done to people’ in order to see how they reacted. Maybe that’s not the case. But that’s how it feels.
It’s great that many have found this useful, and clearly don’t mind the approach. I’m not in that camp though, I don’t like the idea that my transactions are being used in this manner, for me what I do with my money should be private to a certain extent. And I know the only way you can have true privacy is by not using electronic payments - I’m not after anonymity though, just some respect for my data, and that what I do with my money won’t be converted into promotional ‘opportunities’. This isn’t Facebook.
Even if there’s an opt out for this, I’m now nervous about what Monzo considers to be acceptable behaviour, and what they will feel they can get away with in future. This has crossed a massive line for me, it smacks of a lack of respect for customers’ data, it lacks empathy, and I don’t even have a current account yet.
I’m sorry to sound so negative about it all, but that’s just how I feel. Literally everything about Monzo has been positive for me so far, I tell people about it, and a few people I know have signed up as a result.
Good for those who think this is a great idea. I’m sorry I can’t be one of those people. I hope in some way this feedback is useful.
It was clear that Monzo was planning Marketplace functionality, as a source of income, but mainly as an added service to users. Bulb was the first real test. No data was shared with Bulb. User transaction data wasn’t analysed at all, Phil said what were the criteria to get Bulb advert.
Rollout might have been clearer and Monzo already took that feedback on board. Yes, it was done to see how we reacted, because how else they’d measure what users think about it? I might sound like a broken record, but this is beta and some actions done by Monzo in this period are tests and they are open to criticism - so thank you for your post. So far, Monzo haven’t done anything untoward, or that would breach DPA (that guards your data).
Tom said that they might not always get things right, but that they will always incorporate feedback. Your post is taking it a bit far in it’s conclusion in my humble opinion. You are now bashing Monzo for doing a test on extremely limited number of users (and you were not one of them), an event that objectively had to be a genuine test (unless someone thinks that commission from 5 users is make it or break it for Monzo?).
Don’t get me wrong, I agree it could have been done better (and other users in this thread concur), but considering resigning from Monzo over first Marketplace test when it’s beta phase?..
Thanks Avishai. I guess it’s something I feel very strongly about, which is why my post comes across as ‘bashing’.
For me it comes down to what an organisation considers to be an acceptable use of their customers’ data. Things like transaction data analysis, which I accept were not used in this test, are cited in Phil’s post as something they want to do in the future (under the ‘better targeting’ bullet).
So for me it’s not just about this test, but where Monzo sees this kind of thing going in the future, and what they think is an acceptable use of customers’ data; and for me using my data in this way is a red line and not one I’m happy to cross. Of course there’s nothing untoward about what they’re doing, and it’s clearly it’s great news for those who see this as a positive.
It’s difficult to think of any service (online or offline) that doesn’t use user’s data for their benefit. There generally has to be an input, in order for there to be beneficial output i.e. to rent your flat, you have to provide your telephone number, bank account details etc. to a letting agent / your landlord.
Hopefully you trust your bank to be custodians of your data. If you don’t then you shouldn’t be banking with them either. You mentioned privacy in your earlier post but what we’re looking at here is an algorithm scanning your data & saying if: direct debit to British Gas then: send recommendation, just as your existing bank has a rule like if: balance less than £20 then: send text alert, that’s all.
I can’t see a reason why the fact that the output is adverts would be more concerning. If the issue is that you don’t want to receive adverts then that’s fine - you can opt out.
One of Monzo’s specific aims is to use user’s data for their benefit, for example using your location data (opt in) to figure out your journey history & request a refund from TFL if you forgot to tap out when you left a station & were charged the maximum fare as a result. They already do something similar with the ‘welcome to [country]’ notifications.
The output might be different (it’s not an advert) but the process is almost exactly the same. This sort of use of user’s data (which doesn’t expose the user in any way) is key in order to create ‘magical’ experiences that delight the user. If you’re concerned about this sort of thing then maybe Monzo’s not for you & you should use a traditional bank. But even they will catch up to this sort of thing eventually.
So when you suggest that this is an unacceptable use of customer’s data, I’m trying to understand which aspect you consider unacceptable? Could you please explain what potential outcome you’re anticipating & therefore worrying about?
I agree with a lot of this post. This was a massive clanger for a company so in tune with its users/community and it felt to me too like a spammy advert clumsily bunged into my bank statement. It could have been done more elegantly, and felt at odds with the user-initiated workflow implied by the Marketplace.
However, my bank currently processes my data and tries to sell me stuff, so the concept isn’t new – it’s just the stuff it’s trying to sell is its own product range.
I can opt out of direct marketing, and I expect to be able to do so with Monzo. I would hope that opting out wouldn’t affect my ability to use the Marketplace.
However this was a test, and those of us who have signed up for the Current Account preview agreed to this kind of thing, however obtrusive the result looked. To think about jumping ship seems a little harsh, but each to their own.
Current T&C have following wording around marketing and third party companies:
16.7. We will process, use, manage, control, release and record information about you to:
16.7.4. contact you by post, by phone or in another way about other products and services which we consider may interest you – unless you tell us that you prefer not to receive direct marketing;
16.8. We may reveal information about you:
16.8.7. to anyone you authorise us to give information about you to.
I may not be an expert on legal stuff, but it’s really clear. Legally, users we will receive marketing opt out - and it might be more user-friendly than usual banks, my gut feeling. Legally, I have to agree to have my data shared with third party. There are probably many bad things that happen to companies that break the law, including, but not limited to ICO fines.
Sure, thanks for asking. And also for confirming that this will be an opt-out (I do hope that future ‘tests’ will have an opt out also, and not just run in order to gauge the reaction).
Put simply, I don’t like my transactions being used to push marketing to me. And that includes the type of marketing that might be badged as ‘offers that we think might benefit you’; it’s marketing.
I’m sure Monzo thinks that ads like this are a ‘beneficial output’, but for me the beneficial output of my inputs (transaction data) into a bank are banking related, such as being able to see my balance, transfer money, check my spending history, perhaps receive alerts when I’m at certain limits, and so on.
You cite some other examples - renting a flat of course requires a telephone number, bank account details etc to be provided. The beneficial output of that is I get a flat. I don’t provide that information to a letting agent with the expectation that they’ll say “we notice your mobile phone number is O2, here’s a partner offer from EE you might like”. I expect a flat, because they’re a letting agent.
It’s not the process, it’s the output. I don’t expect my bank to push ads to me based on what I do with my money. If Monzo thinks that that’s an acceptable thing to do, then that’s fine, and clearly lots of your customers do, but it’s just not for me. I hope this feedback is helpful.
I think it’s fairly easy to draw the line. This has probably been suggested above as not had time to read the whole thread, but you have some kind of option/preference that’s called, “enable offers”, or something similar.
People that don’t want offers like the chap above will be happy to deselect - and that’s fine. Personally, I want the offers. I don’t expect to be spammed with every offer that Monzo has going purely so they can make money, but my main attraction to Monzo is they are pretty much building a bank that’s trying to save me money.
The marketplace, offers, prompts - whichever facet of what they’re building it is, will help me save money. And if I get the odd prompt about energy prices, it might actually push me to look into my energy tariff and open my eyes to savings I didn’t know existed.
Controversial I know, but where Monzo gets proper baller is when they know they can categorically save you money with just a couple of clicks. Personally I would like to see them prompt anyone that has “deselected offers” with this info - I can get the “don’t send me marketing because I don’t like it” - but everyone likes saving money, and I can’t imagine Monzo would get much push back if they could facilitate that in such a friction-less way.
I have been thinking about this on the way home tonight.
For me, if I knew the playing field was always level, ie. the amount of commission Monzo earns from any affiliate link in an ad or the Marketplace is the same, then I could be confident I was being recommended the best deal for me based on my actual data-usage.
However, the ad felt dumb, and that bore connotations of some companies paying more commission to Monzo than others. So, a bit like comparison websites, the seed is planted that I’m not necessarily seeing what’s best for me, but an ad for a company who has paid the most for it to be there.
This is the line Monzo is going to have to walk. I’d be happy to see recommendations based on the former. Monzo’s impartiality would talk a kicking if I suspected the latter.
I thought this too. Maybe I’m one of the odd users that wouldn’t mind seeing it in my feed, but it has to be not spammy & tailored to me to some extent eg I use Tumblr and they’re always showing me ads about old age pensions, mortgages and “if you have an injury, you may be entitled to…” which I have zero interest/ use for.
Given how the CA is in beta it makes sense that they’d try to test out several features, I don’t see an issue with that.
If Monzo can get partnerships with more companies, I’m sure they’d be able to better tailor ads for everyone. I don’t even need ads that save me money- e.g. having an option to turn on notifications for a specific retailer when there is a major sale (this might admittedly get spammy and would be best under a separate tab.
Or things like better transaction info for online shopping, I can see what I’ve bought with Amazon/ASOS and their individual prices instead of it being lumped together in one sum.
Or linking loyalty cards to Monzo so there is no need to flash both cards at the checkout
But I digress. I’m excited about the Marketplace option, and I’m sure Monzo staff will take all feedback seriously and make sure users can easily opt in/out (a popup when first launched mayhaps). Easy to assume the worst/ fear for a crudely done, intrusive ad system at this point; but given how there was a huge wave of unhappiness they’ll take precautions to avoid doing that again.