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Small but mighty: the hot coral card that’s taking over the banking world. App-based banking has disrupted the banking industry and changed the way we manage our finances for the better. Marketing Manager Emily, caught up with Richard Cook, Social Media Manager at Monzo, to discuss why more of us are ditching our traditional bank in favour of Monzo – the bank that ‘makes life easier, not harder’ – and how it’s keeping up with the demands of consumer behaviour.

Think back to how you were banking five years ago, and it’s most likely completely different from how you manage your finances now. We no longer need to step inside a local branch to transfer money or set up a standing order, we can do it all via our phone – and that’s all thanks to appbased banks like Monzo.

If you haven’t heard of Monzo, then you’ve probably seen its hot coral card on bus advertisements or in the wallet pockets of your friends and family. Set up in 2015, Monzo is a smart banking solution that lets you manage and run your account through an app without needing to visit a branch. With more than three million customers to date, Monzo is a global success. So, what’s the secret?

E: Hi Richard, can you tell us a bit about your role at Monzo and what you were doing previously?

R: I’m Richard, and I’ve been working at Monzo for just over two years. My job mostly involves creating content to engage our community of passionate Monzo fans. Every day is different, so I might find myself working on some fun engagement posts one morning (we love memes), then an exciting big company announcement in the afternoon. Before Monzo, I was at Spotify for six and a half years, where I started in customer service roles before moving more into marketing. It might not seem obvious, but there are lots of parallels between Spotify and Monzo. For a start, they’re both high-growth tech start-ups with a loyal fanbase, so it’s been great to apply my experience and transfer my skills to my role at Monzo.

E: Monzo is paving the way for the future of banking. Was there a particular catalyst to Monzo becoming such a global success?

R: It’s always hard to pinpoint the reason why Monzo has been so successful, but I’d say that we did benefit a lot in the early days from word-of-mouth. People were telling their friends about Monzo and getting them onto the waiting-list, or even jumping the list with our special ‘golden tickets’. The Monzo app just works better if your friends use it too, so there’s a strong incentive for you to share it with your friends, which is great marketing for us. Also, we’ve always listened to our customers to make sure we’re building something that they want to use. We still give folks early access to new features in exchange for feedback, so our product is always developing and evolving because we’re always acting on feedback. Our hot coral bank card helped a lot too, but I wouldn’t pin everything on that!

E: What were the thoughts behind the hot coral card?

R: Ultimately, we thought, why should your bank card be boring? There are lots of Monzo myths and legends about how we came up with the card, so I won’t add to those, but it’s just one of those little touches that (hopefully) delights our customers whenever they see it.

E: What are Monzo’s brand values and how do you distill them through your team?

R: As a company we’ve set out values that all teams share, and we try to naturally align these with our work. For example, one of our values is to default to transparency, which means that we’re transparent in everything that we do. We’re open with each other about what we’re working on (we have very few private channels in our company messaging tool) and why we’re making various decisions. It applies to other areas too, like how we’re transparent with our customers about the fees we charge, or when we admit on our blog when things haven’t worked out the way we wanted them to.

E: What makes Monzo different from other app-based banks?

R: One thing that makes us stand out is that we focus on building features to make your day-to-day banking easier. While other banking apps might be working on cryptocurrency or foreign exchange, we want to make a great everyday current account with powerful features like round-ups and pots for your money. But, we do support the work that all the new digital banks are doing, and we’re constantly impressed by how innovative the industry is, so, we’re never competing with other banks to be the best app-based bank out there. Instead, we’re competing to get the attention of those who haven’t thought about switching to an app-based bank and getting them to switch to Monzo.

E: Is Monzo aimed at a new generation of account holders, and if so, how does it reach them? Who else are you targeting?

R: Our mission is to ‘make money work for everyone’, which means we want everyone who has a bank account to switch to us. While we appeal to more of the younger market because of the app and the card (we’ve even seen people dress up as our card for Halloween!), we would love to see people who’ve had the same bank account for twenty or thirty years give us a shot. That’s why we make it super easy for people to switch to us and provide them with benefits like getting paid a day early, paying your bills from specific pots and automatically sorting your salary when it’s paid. We’re also keen to make banking available to people who are turned down by the big banks. Sadly, a lot of people fall into the ‘unbanked’ category, which means they’re denied access to financial services. For example, recent migrants to the UK often struggle to set up a bank account because they haven’t got proof of address, so we make it easy for anyone to open a bank account without a fixed address. We also work with organisations around the country to help people get to grips with the UK’s banking system by providing advice and resources via our ‘Banking 101’ sessions.

E: Are there any trends in retail behaviour that influence changes you make to the App?

R: Not only are people going cashless, but they’re also going cardless too. The beauty of Monzo is that it works with Google Pay and Apple Pay, which means you can do most of your spending using your phone.

E: Banking has come a long way in the past few years with more people than ever turning to a ‘branchless bank’, but what do you think will be the biggest change in user behaviour in the next 12 months?

R: One of our bets at Monzo is that people want to manage their financial lives all in one place, so we’re trying to work towards a marketplace model where you could, for instance, see your credit score, manage your bills, renew your insurance, keep an eye on your savings, all through an app. With the recent open banking initiative – the practice of sharing financial information electronically and securely – we should also see more companies build exciting apps that integrate with your bank account in interesting ways. Some great examples include, Flux, which lets you get digital receipts and see them in Monzo, or Tail, which offers cash-back on certain purchases.

E: Finally, what’s the future for Monzo?

R: We’re still growing super-fast in the UK (we recently passed 3.5m customers) and our goals for 2020 are to grow out our business banking and launch a paid Monzo account. Our US team is also hard at work bringing Monzo to a whole new market, which is super exciting for us – the sky is the limit!

Read this interview plus more from RSPCA Cymru and Mundy & Anson in BARK 9 HERE

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