This week on our blog, we’re focussing on financial inclusion. This means being aware of the challenges that people can face getting access to financial services, and thinking about what we can do to help.
At Monzo, we strongly believe that everyone deserves access to financial services like banking. Just getting a bank account is a crucial first step to getting access to other services across society. So we want to do everything we can to help everyone get a bank account.
So far we’ve shared what we’re doing to help recent immigrants, and refugees. And we’re going to share what we’re doing for people without fixed addresses, or live on boats.
But we also want to hear from you.
What challenges have you faced in getting access to financial services?
What else could we be doing to make sure that everyone has access to banking?
Are we doing anything currently that could be preventing financial inclusion?
Let us know your thoughts! We’d look forward to hearing your ideas.
My parents are pensioners and would love to join monzo to track money better but don’t have photo ID. They have bank accounts already so a way to validate them another way, possibly using me as an existing monzo customer, would be helpful.
Hi Alex, thanks for letting us know about this. We’re planning on sharing all the forms of ID we accept for opening a Monzo account very soon. In the meantime, have you contacted us through the in-app chat to see what we might be able to use instead?
Hey @nanos! That’s what we’re trying to do and I’d love your input on this more, especially if you have specific suggestions. As we’ve said in all these pieces, this is just the beginning and we know we’re not doing the best we can be yet.
On your specific point: most of my friends who are asylum seekers have ARC cards — which we can’t support yet as a form of ID in isolation, which is really frustrating. The way we’re planning to solve problems like this in the future is through “Basic Bank Accounts” — these are more restricted accounts that therefore mean we can accept different forms of ID on them. It’s going to take us some time to support these accounts — it’s a pretty big project! But it’s planned and we’re 100% committed to doing it
As always, I’d love to hear more ideas and suggestions. If they’re things we can do immediately, we’ll do them and if they’re more long term, I can give you an idea of when/if we’re planning to do them.
It’s just that the way in which this post was written and titled which was a problem: You present it, as though it is magically easy to open an account with Monzo as asylum seeker. Easier and better than with other banks.
But in fact it’s the opposite: I know several banks that happily accept ARCs as proof of ID, while you don’t. I don’t expect you to have a solution to every problem today, of course.
But you wrote a blog post that - in my mind - boils down to “It’s so easy to open a bank account with Monzo as asylum seeker: You just need any of these documents. (PS: You are almost guaranteed not to have any of these, but lets just hide that bit, because it doesn’t make for good PR.)” That is really something that upsets me. Maybe more than it should, I have to admit.
And pointing to “national ID” as acceptable ID is borderline misleading. Which countries’ national IDs do you accept? And how many asylum seekers from these countries are there in the UK?
I’m a big convert of Monzo, and spend quite a bit of time trying to bring people over! I’ll point out the issues I have had trying to convince people to move. As with most things in the money world, all of these issues are made much worse when you have little spare.
No ability to pay in cash - many people work and get paid in cash, or borrow cash from others when times are hard. With no ability to pay this in, they are unable to use Monzo at all. What is the point of having an account if it’s just empty. Even on a smaller level, it is still common to be given cash at birthdays/holidays/weddings etc, and users would have to have another bank account then move it over; this means more effort, more things to manage and more training to show “how” this would be done (pay it in to another account, then show them how they transfer). Likewise, this applies for cheques too. No matter what is done to improve inclusion at Monzo, if users have to open another bank to get their cash in; it is the second bank that limits their “true” inclusion, not you.
No ability to access without a phone - especially less well-off people may not have access to the latest smart phone, these people can’t open a Monzo account and have to go elsewhere; it would be fantastic to get them into the Monzo world with online banking (which can be done on shared library computers, or friends machines - something that is not an option on mobiles). It would also provide better security for people who cannot afford to replace a lost phone instantly; they would still be able to bank from home. I understand the “mobile first” ideology going forward, but having it as the only option completely alienates many people I speak to.
I have seen the “basic emergency pages” which seem like a step in the right direction; but lack the very important ability to control standing orders, direct debits and transfer money to others - without these, if you’re phone-less for a month until you get paid, you are out of luck and that very expensive loss/break could cost you far more when you also lose the ability to control your finances. I feel like a large part of getting people into banking is convincing them why it’s a good idea - while there are many who want a bank account, but can’t get one; there are also many who don’t think they need one, or are scared by the concept - to these people, answering “what happens when I break my phone” with “you lose access to all your money until you can get another one” will do nothing to settle that nerve.
This is maybe less around financial inclusion, but I’ll include it here anyway: Once people have a bank account, getting them to stick around is the next step - many who are not used to this sort of money management (and many who are!) struggle with budgeting in the digital world - and end up moving back to “cash” because it feels easier to manage (you go pay your bills, then any cash left over is yours to spend, when it’s gone, you stop).
In a number of cases I have recommended to people (and do this myself!): Get two accounts: one where all the bills and work payments go to/from, and another which is “spending money”, this means that people are not caught out by spending early in the month, only to forget a big payment is coming out later. This sadly means doing some banking away from Monzo :(. (While the new summery screen can help with this; it does not offer the same hard stop as your card being rejected). I feel it would be very useful to be able to achieve this within Monzo alone - so either link a card to a specific pot, or link direct debits/standing orders to a different one (and then allow for recurring automatic payments). This would give people who are less proficient at budgeting the ability to sit down with an advisor, sort it all out and then know that “while that pot has cash in it, I can still use my card” - Eventually this becomes the only money they think about and they are less tempted to overspend, it works like cash in envelopes. This, I believe, would help those less financially literate to keep everything in the black, and encourage them to stick around with the banking world.
I’m glad you are bringing this up, especially as there are so many here, who think that smartphones are so cheap and everyone can afford one. This is exacerbated by the fact that Monzo want to remove OS support quite quickly, potentially locking those out of their accounts who can least afford it …
This is also a good point, the “smart phone” utilisation of our society doesn’t necessarily mean “new smart phones”, people who are less well off will likely have hand-me-downs or cheep alternatives - however, I do understand the need to focus on a certain set of devices in order to innovate with the speed that Monzo are trying to, and their desire to not allow for a sub-optimal experience.
No-one will ever be able to support every possible device - but if it’s going to push for inclusion, I wonder if maybe a “Monzo lite” version for old phones and web browsers - without the shinyness we know and love, but with the key functionality (sending money, managing standing orders/direct debits, moving between pots, seeing transactions, help chat); would be a solution to allow for inclusion here. It would also mean that people who upgrade to a newer device are already in the ecosystem, and will just get a nicer experience - and when times are bad, those who lose access to their phone - still have access to their bank.
I have encouraged my parents to join Monzo, but they have realised they do not have an up-to-date acceptable form of ID.
Unfortunately, they come from a low socio-economic background and the price of renewing their ID is too high. This is a major barrier. They already have bank accounts, but are stuck with their current accounts unable to switch provider.
To combat the ID issue often faced by the homeless, Would it be allowed to possibly follow the joint account idea, but instead of a separate account, allow them to have a nominated person who can create a Pot/account and can give them a ‘named card’ to that account (Similar to credit cards, and the being able to create second card holders?) - Instead of a fully independent account? Would this still require the full ID checks currently needed?
Secondly, instead of a full roll out, but for limited user base, access to a Web bank interface with majority of the features of the main app but do not require a phone (limited access to tech devices shouldn’t be a reason to not go Monzo! e.g. homeless, although I might be wrong in thinking they don’t have mobiles, might be completely wrong)
The residency rules still feel very old-fashioned. Many UK citizens move abroad for a few years with mortgages and bills to pay in the UK. The second you do not have a proof of address, most banks become almost useless as you can’t make any changes, open any new accounts or apply for new product rates.
Digital nomads are a prime example of this - I’ve seen a few using Revolut, but I think technically they are also breaking the T&Cs as they are not a legal resident of any country?