Monzo launches its new Monzo Plus account
Reiterating its ongoing mission to “make money work for everyone”, the company’s decision to release Plus could at least partially a response to the economic anxiety caused by COVID-19 pandemic.
Instilling a sense of restored order and control over important financial matters, Monzo is positioning its new account as an ideal format for customers to wait out the prolonged uncertainty as countries around the world wait for the ‘new normal’ to take hold.
Putting money in its customers’ hands
Monzo Plus comes with a £5 monthly account fee and a three-month minimum term. For that charge, Monzo customers will receive the following benefits and bonuses:
- Full, easy visibility on other accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, etc, held with other banks via the Monzo app. This includes access to balances, transactions and bank transfers.
- 1.00% AER/Gross (variable) on account balance and regular savings pots up to £2,000.
- £400 of fee-free cash withdrawals whilst abroad every 30 days.
- A minimalist design holographic card.
- Plus, all the regular features of a free Monzo account are retained.
"With this version of Monzo Plus, we went back to basics and re-examined how we built things. We thought really hard about why people love Monzo and listened to our customers and community,” Mike Hudack, Chief Product Officer.
“Over and over again we heard that people love Monzo because it gives them more control and visibility over their money. So we’ve doubled down on that and created a premium product that we believe makes Monzo even better at managing your money, refocused on benefits that help customers today and in the future.”
Image courtesy of Monzo
Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem
The development of tech ecosystems is placing the future of post-COVID banking in jeopardy. At a time when Big Tech can replicate the functions of traditional financial institutions, what can banks do to retain a grip on the market?
John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, has a few ideas. A SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform for financial institutions, Zafin is preparing the next generation of banks to cope with this precise challenge.
Smith is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. We asked him four questions:
Q. Have the events of the pandemic caused an irreversible shift in the digitalisation of banks? If so, is COVID the sole cause or are there other factors?
It’s a great question and one that I am asked a lot. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant shift in the acceleration of digital. In fact, I’ve seen some estimates show there to have been as much as four to six years of digital adoption growth since the initial lockdown started.
While the pandemic may be the primary reason for this growth, two other drivers include fintech disruption and the high costs of operating a traditional retail bank. Both of these factors have caught the attention of banking executives as they set their minds on accelerating digital transformation with a focus on high return, low risk.
Q. Some commentators believe banks must learn from Big Tech in order to survive. Do you agree? Please expand.
I agree completely; we’re living in the era of the ‘ecosystem’. All the seismic shifts we’re seeing in technology, be it aggregation, embedded finance, DeFi or hyper-personalisation are all enabled by the foundation of an ecosystem.
When financial institutions work with a strategic partner like Zafin, which has made the strategic investments in a best-in-class ecosystem, they’re able to capitalise on opportunities more quickly and safely, and will be better positioned for growth now and at the other side of the pandemic.
Q. What are currently the obstacles to adopting Open Banking? Is it more likely to 'take off' in some regions rather than others?
I would argue that Open Banking has been in the US for some time and will only continue to grow there. By definition, Open Banking is about the secure sharing of financial information that customers are aware of and have authorised. Under that definition, we’re seeing aspects of this well underway even though its full potential remains to be seen.
Third-Party Providers are a natural outcome of Open Banking, whereby they can create propositions beyond what a bank normally does to enable banking functions such as payments, borrowing, saving and so on. Once again, some of these are already present through industry-led initiatives, whereas regions such as the EU have taken the pathway of regulation such as PSD2.
The industry-led initiatives we’ve seen in the US have also had the added advantage of guard-rails that regulatory bodies like FFIEC and CFPB provide. There are also other technology-led initiatives such as API definitions that are set out through the FS-ISAC.
I would argue the future of Open Banking in North America will be through the natural evolution of the guidelines and API definitions that have been published, as well as the natural progression of industry initiatives.
Q. Are there any other bank tech trends you'd like to discuss?
Coreless banking. Zafin has been pioneering some of the work around externalising functions out of the legacy core to drive a more ‘fintech nimble’ bank, while not having to deliver a ‘heart and lungs’ core bank replacement.
Real life examples of this include moving some of the core functions of a banking system, such as product and pricing to a platform like Zafin. Origination, onboarding, KYC, risk, and compliance are all other examples of externalising banking functions for added agility.