Zen Discussion

Discussing fintech with one of my US-based friends, they introduced me to a product I’d never heard of before. It’s a premium only sort of current account, that focus on multi-currency. I like their aesthetics quite a bit and their offering is interesting too.

There’s no discussion for them on here yet, so not sure how many of you here are aware of them.

The aspect that caught my attention though, are their Zenefits as they call them. Perks for paying for the account. In particular ZenCare and extended warranty. These are the sorts of features I feel would add some real value to the premium offerings in the U.K. ZenCare in particular is very interesting and not something I’ve seen before outside of some of the things PayPal do.

On the topic of extended warranties, I wonder why banks are so allergic to offering it in the U.K. it’s a core feature of N26 in the EU, but was missing in their U.K. products. Extended warranty I think is something more people would benefit from than more niche insurance products.

Anyway, here’s the website:

Details on Zen Care here:
https://www.zen.com/zenefits/zen-care
On the surface it just seems like a really slick implementation of the MasterCard chargeback scheme. Given that, and Monzo’s push towards self serve, I’m surprised they’ve not done something similar already, and marketed it the way they do get paid early.

The only thing that deters me from the possibility it’s just very well implemented and accessible interface for chargeback is that for the cheaper account, you have a limit on requests.

Edit: quick correction for clarity! My friend just told me they’re not actually US based! He just heard about them from sponsored YouTube videos.

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Looks very nice,

makes Monzo feel like turd in comparison with its mush of UI/UX, poor copywriting, and adverts.

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Been doing some more research into these, and the product looks really solid and well thought through. It’s a very simple approach, and is missing some of the basics we expect in th U.K. for a bank, but the zen care refunds are said to be instant, as is the cashback from their referral/offers, so no more waiting for tracking.

I’ll be signing up for the free trial shortly to try them out. Customer support is 24/7 too and the card is a very clean aesthetic. I like what I’m seeing so far, if they get the banking basics in place before long, then they’ll have a solid, simple, yet polished product to offer if you don’t care for all the gimmicks of other fintechs.

HSBC offer it free with their Premier credit card for home appliances. I just used it on a new washing machine. Whatever the warranty is, you get an extra year or two (not clear) on top of it and it covers accidental etc damage as well as whatever the original warranty would offer.

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I’ve signed up this morning, and the on boarding experience was very impressive. So far it feels there’s a lot of inspiration taken from revolut here, but minified and simplified significantly. It feels incredibly polished.

Sign up requires photo of ID and a still photo of you face. No annoying video selfie, so great for me. A video selfie would have put me off and I wouldn’t have proceeded. I opted for the £5 plan on the 30 day trial. There’s no commitment and I plan to cancel at the end of the 30 days.

The App’s UI is very clean, and minimal. It’s navigation is similar to cash app by using swipe gestures.

There are 3 core interface panes (plus a Home Screen). I’ll discuss these now.

  • the home screen - when you open the app for the very first time, this explains the gestures. It’ll also prompt you to order your card. After which, it’s just a plain white screen that says ‘Hi [Name]’

  • The Accounts Screen - You swipe right from the home screen to access this. It reminds me a lot of the first version of Atom Bank. This has bubbles which represent your currency accounts. And each bubble shows you your account balance. The more money you have in each currency, the larger the bubble. This is the direction I eventually imagined Atom’s app would go in before they ditched it. You can tap on these bubbles to view your account details, and to top up, exchange, or initiate a bank transfer. Choosing the transfer option is also where you’ll find saved payees. At the top you have a total balance which combines your balances from all currencies to display a total in a currency of your choosing. The default for some reason was PLN, despite me being in the U.K. and using GBP. At the bottom is where you access your card. It peeks sort of like Monzo. I’ve ordered mine, and I presume this where I’ll be able to access card controls once it’s arrived.

Edit: added my first virtual card, which does indeed propagate here at the bottom of the accounts screen with the details and controls. You can rename the cards, lock or remove them, set daily limits with a max of £30k. And add it to Apple wallet. The cards are stacked at the bottom of the accounts screen with one of them peeking above the fold. It’s very similar to the UI of Apple’s wallet app here. It’s nice, I like it.

Here’s what the disposable card looks like in Apple Pay:

  • The transaction feed - Swipe down from the home screen to access this. It’s a very simple list of transactions. I don’t yet know if there will be data enrichment, but I wouldn’t mind if there isn’t. The iconography is gorgeous and merchant logos would ruin the beauty here.

  • Zenefits - swipe left from the home screen, and you see your Zenefits screen, which provides an overview of how much money each Zenefit has saved you. I want to go a little more in depth here and provide some screenshots, as they share example stories to demonstrate how the features work. I’m not sure how the savings are calculated for some of these though as they’re not going to be everyday uses, and for some are things they’ll rarely if ever need and are more of just a peace of mind offer.

The main Zenefits screen:

Zen Care:


This still feels like a well marketed MasterCard chargeback scheme with a slick process. They say the money is refunded instantly, and there’s a bit of a trend here which I’ll get to later in the post. I’m not sure how your savings will be calculated for this feature.

Extended Warranty:


This is self explanatory. It’s designed to replace the extended warranty you’ll find being promoted when you’re shopping at Argos, John Lewis, or Amazon for instance. It’s provided by Axa, so identical to what N26 offer in the EU. Your savings, I imagine, are estimated based on how much they think it would have costed to buy the extended warranty from the retailer.

Instant Cashback:


This is fairly self explanatory, your savings here will just be your income from cashback. They use referral links like Revolut do, and those are accessed by tapping on the bag icon at the top right of the Zenefits screen. There aren’t many offers available here, and most are for retailers I’ve never heard of. The most prominent one here is Aliexpress.

Exchange savings:


Also fairly self explanatory as to where the savings come from.

Heading back over to the accounts screen now, at the top left is is a button that takes you to the settings screen. My account is labelled as a founders edition personal account, presumable because these are relatively new, and I’m among the first to have signed up.

Here you can view your personal details and change your pricing plan. It’s also where you can contact support. There’s a button here too to show you your zenefits which is where you can enitiate a Zen Care refund.

There’s also a Zen Pay feature here, which lets you pay for something by scanning a QR code. Someone recently made a suggestion for Monzo to do something like this too. Must be a popular European thing, because I’ll never use this. The app also has a lovely soothing opening melody when you launch it. You can turn that on or off here, as well as enable biometrics.

Closing thoughts
This app feels incredibly polished and a joy to use. I like the features on offer, but it is a paid for only subscription offer. 2 tiers at 99p and £4.99. I think there’s some good value here though. It’s promoted entirely as a shopping card, so this is not intended to be your bank, but rather be used in conjunction with one. You get a sort code and account number, but I don’t think direct debits are supported.

I’ll give it some good use over the next month to know for sure, but this, on paper at least, looks an incredibly well made spending card. If you miss what Monzo used to be before they became a bank and want to go back to that segregation for spending money, I think there’s a solid option in ZEN here that will fulfil that in a really nice way.

The one negative interaction I had was trying to set up Apple Pay on the virtual card. It wasn’t automatic. It just took me to the wallet app and I had to go back and forth copying and pasting the card details. Should be an easy fix though.

I’ll report back when the physical card arrives, and comment on the quality, if it looks different in Apple Pay etc.

One thing I’ve noted in the graphics for the card is that the logo seems to have the same holographic shimmer as the Monzo Plus card logo does. In the app, this is actually reinforced with a small attention to detail that reminds me of the old iOS 6 volume slider in the music app. As your device move, the in app logo has an animated shimmer that moves as your device does. I love those things, and I’m sure I said somewhere it would have been nice for the Monzo Plus card in app to have the same sort of effect.

This is incredibly long so I may work on add a TL;DR later. Any questions?

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Great post :clap:

Not sure if Zen is for me operationally, but I do like those app visuals a lot - there’s a hint of Notion in there.

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Looking at @N26throwaway screenshots, I’m not sure I’d agree. There is just something off about all of their in-app text and I couldn’t live with it

See what you mean…

Informative it may be, but it feels a bit childlike.

It’s also not… English? I mean the words are there but the syntax is just way off

Mia bought 600€ worth Play Station 5. Automatically she received free one year extended warranty.

This is not English – and they even got the product name wrong

I get it, not everyone speaks perfect English (I certainly don’t), but if you launch a product internationally, please pay that extra bit of cash for a translator or someone to check over your text

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Yes, given how simple the message is, paying someone to get the words right wouldn’t be a struggle.

(I still wouldn’t favour the storyboard effect - reminds me of those primary school reading books…:smirk:).

I noticed this when testing out their support too. Everything just seems poorly translated into English right now.

The support agent I chatted to wasn’t a native English speaker, which made it difficult to understand them.

Given the prominence of PLN in app, I imagine this a Polish creation, and is still a very new company in its infancy. Reminds me in many ways of Saturo or Loewe, which isn’t best translated into English either. In fact, not too many EU companies that offer services here are. Loewe make phenomenally good TVs but you’ll notice the same issue with the text in English.

Translations are a relatively simple fix as they grow though. The important thing to me is how well they’ve nailed the software. Bad software is much harder to fix.

See spot run, run spot run.

Yep sold, sign me up!

That’s him - Spot (and Janet & John, if I’m not mistaken :grinning:).

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The physical card arrived today. It’s IDEMIA, like Monzo Plus cards. Some of IDEMIA’s cards are made from recycled plastic, but nothing to say whether this one is or isn’t.

It feels very high quality, similar to the Monzo Plus card. The logo is holographic too, and refracts light in exactly the same way as the Monzo logo does on the plus card. I like it. I’d say it feels more substantial than the Monzo Plus card, out of all the cards I’ve ever owned I’d rank it second in terms of quality only the transparent N26 card.

It’s a very clean card. Here’s an image:

The packaging is very lovely. It’s a simple card, but with a silicon rubberised texture. Here are some images of the packaging:

Since my last post, they’ve enabled the ability to top via Apple Pay, which is great. My test deposit and withdrawals each took a day to complete. I had to withdraw funds to my Barclays account after depositing with Monzo because it required an IBAN and wouldn’t accept Monzo’s.

I do like how they layout the transaction feed though. It’s unique, and great for glanceability by sorting income and outcome onto different sides of the screen. Screenshot here:

I very much like what’s on offer here, but I’m not sure I like it enough to warrant paying for and using in addition to a bank account. Now if they were to become a bank, the proposition would be much more compelling.

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Correct me if I’m wrong but do you still pay exchange rate fees when paying with the card in one of those 30 currencies?

Here’s what Zen say:

When making a payment, the transaction currency will be automatically detected. If it is one of the 30 currencies corresponding to your account, the amount will be debited from the relevant account . If, however, it is different than those offered on our accounts, the funds will be automatically converted at the rate offered by MasterCard.

If the funds on a given account are insufficient to complete the transaction , they will be drawn from the EUR, USD, GBP or PLN account and automatically converted at no cost .

If you wish to know more about the automatic conversion, click here.

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Looks really nice but for me it needs to be a credit card if I’m going to put my spending on it. Especially for the bigger tickets items for which it offers extended warranties.

What does it take to get a badass fintech credit card?!

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Oh I’d be all over this if it were a credit card! Fee included!

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Damn straight. I’d forgo the cashback on my beloved Amex too.

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