WHAT IS MONZO?
Chris Martin looks at the latest smart banking solution to say goodbye to bricks and mortar branches
With the rise of mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay and Android Pay, we’re also seeing the launch of other smart banking solutions. One such offering is Monzo, which, along with a feature-packed app and benefits such as no frees abroad, gives customers a physical card.
Monzo (which until recently was called Mondo) is a smart bank for the smartphone generation that does away with things such as bricks and mortar branches, cheque books and the like. Instead, it hinges around an app.
In its own words, Monzo says it’s: “focused on building the best current account in the world and ultimately working with a range of other providers, so that Monzo can be an intelligent hub for your entire financial life.”
Users of the bank’s card have spent more than £20m in over 130 countries since launch.
Monzo has a banking licence, though with restrictions. “We now enter the ‘mobilisation’ phase and over the coming months will be working with the regulators to get our restrictions lifted and launch a full current account with debit cards, faster payments, direct debits and everything else you’d expect,” it said in a statement.
For now, you can top up the card from the app and use it at cash machines, in-store and online. It’s also contactless, so you can use it at the same terminals you would with other cards.
The app isn’t just for topping up the card (£100 to start with). It will instantly update your balance, provide handy notifications (including why a transaction was declined) and provide an interesting visual way of seeing where you spend your money. You can also use the app to suspend the card if it’s lost or stolen.
Other benefits include adding notes or receipts to transactions, and the card won’t be blocked if you go abroad – you don’t need to notify Monzo about travelling. Plus, as we mentioned earlier, there are no fees or charges when using the card outside the UK.
The long-term plan also aims to support Android Pay, overdrafts and international bank transfers. Medium term (six- to nine months) plans include Apple Pay, bill splitting, virtual savings accounts and integration with partners such as TFL and Nectar.
How to get a Monzo card
If all this sounds like something you’d benefit from you can sign up to the waiting list on the website (monzo.com) or via the app. At the time of writing there are around 40,000 people in the queue for a Monzo card, though you can jump forwards by referring people via a custom link. Each time someone signs up via your link you’ll be bumped up at least 4,000 places.
iOS and Android
At the time of writing, Monzo is available only for those with an iPhone (or using the phone app on iPad). This is because the card needs the app in order to work. The latest version for iOS includes Touch ID (fingerprint) protections, a profile section and your personal user number.
An Android app is currently being alpha tested and is set to launch in September. Note that although there is an app on the Google Play Store, it’s just for checking where you are in the queue and showing your balance if you have a Monzo card.
We’ve only been using our Monzo card for a few weeks, but in that short period of time we’ve found it easy and simple to use.
The card itself, apart from being brightly coloured (handy when you’re looking for it), is no different to any other recently issued card you have in your wallet. It’s the well thought out and excellently designed app that makes the experience so good.
Everything is instant and the way you can view and analyse your spending is on another level compared to traditional banks, despite most recently trying to update their systems. We’ve not taken it abroad yet, but an upcoming trip to the US will be a lot more manageable with something like Monzo.
For some, the Monzo card will be just what they need to manage and keep track of their spending. The travelling benefits alone will be enough for others to get one. The current pre-paid card could be used as a very modern way of giving kids pocket money or simply limiting your own spending if you’re prone to getting carried away.
Bear in mind that Monzo is still in beta, so you can’t fully rely on it as you’re only card, but it’s a great addition to any wallet, especially when you consider it’s free to get one and use the service.
Monzo Bank allows you to instantly view and analyse your spending