14 May 2018 - 2:50 pm

Challenger banks, orange credit cards and Monzo

When I got my first Monzo card

Aside my Masters, I have three part time jobs (which accumulate to less hours than you would think) but they help with paying the rent (and the cinema and theatre) . One of my employers is Coffee Revolution in the SU. And whenever I’m on the till taking orders, I start noticing more and more orange credit cards. At first, I would ask: is that a Monzo card? And when met with a positive response, I would get really excited to meet a Monzo user. Now, it’s just becoming the order of the day. But what is Monzo do you ask?

Monzo is a challenger bank and a tech startup. It’s a newly established enterprise that aims to compete with the longer established banks in the country (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds). It distinguishes itself through its focus on technology and online data. Monzo is an app-bank. Transactions happen online, the app has interesting features such as freezing your card if you’ve lost it, or saving money into separate pots. It also has free costs to use abroad.

But aside all of these great practical things what sets a challenger bank apart from the traditional ones and especially what sets Monzo apart is their focus on transparency. Monzo gives you reports on all your spending according to location and category. It has an online forum where it constantly seeks suggestions for improvement. Every change made is explained via an online blog and emails. And any user and member of the public can see their policies and give feedback on them.

An example of how the app tracks spending

Looking through their diversity and inclusion section, I was awed at their transparency. Monzo has stats and figures on their gender ratios, sexual orientation ratios, ethnicity, age and so on. They also clearly state their policies to encourage a more culturally diverse team including gender inclusive wording in job ads, equal pay, visa sponsorship and flexible working among others. They’re basically a role model to what companies should do in terms of transparency and diversity.

Monzo is also a mirror of the current generation of young people and its ideals. It plays on the importance of values and the importance of the community. It strives for a sense of the ethical that competes and combats the traditional understanding of banking. It is, of course, far from being perfect. Started only in 2015, they barely moved from a beta version of the card to a current account. They also introduced some limits to Fee free cash withdrawals abroad. Yet, they become more popular day by day because even though they are not perfect, they are transparent about it, they strive for improving, and they care about making people’s lives better through banking. Monzo is Banking with a vision and that vision gets a lot of people onboard.

Funny update on my spending when outside of the U.K. (they calculated how many national specific dishes I could have bought with that money which I found hilarious and innovative)

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  • About the author

    Ana-Gabriela Popa

    Ana-Gabriela Popa

    MSc Leadership and Management student at The University of Sheffield. Enterprise Intern. Global Citizen. Feminist. Avid reader. Series binge-watcher. Formerly International Students' Officer at Sheffield Students' Union, Chair of International Students' Committee, Vice-President Marketing at AIESEC Sheffield, Widening Participation Intern at USE. BA International Relations and Politics graduate.