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Sunday 16 December 2018

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Monzo eyes 10m customers and overseas growth

Written by Hannah McGrath
02/10/2018

Monzo is looking to reach 10 million customers and has long-term plans to expand internationally, according to one of its lead engineers.

Matt Heath, who has helped design the challenger bank’s infrastructure since its launch in 2015, predicted that the lender’s rapid growth will far outstrip the one million current account customer mark it passed last month.

Speaking to FStech at the Amazon Web Services event, he said that building a digital banking platform on cloud-based technology has enabled the company to scale quickly.

“As of a few weeks ago we have a million customers, our aim by the end of the year is to be about 1.5 million, I think we want to continue to grow, probably aiming for 10 million accounts in the UK; that’s our long term aim and we would be looking at scaling internationally at some point as well.”

Monzo, which started out as a FinTech startup offering a pre-paid card service, now processes £1 billion in payments per month and is looking to double its client base by the end of 2019 by extending its account offerings.

Heath said the bank’s international ambitions have been bolstered by a recent partnership with UK-based money transfer service Transferwise.

“We don’t see ourselves as experts in moving currency between countries – it’s really hard. Even if we were going to do that, we would start maybe with dollars and Euros, integrating with those payment schemes, and we’d maybe do a few more, but the long tail is so long we’d never be able to provide a single level of service.”

However, despite this integration, Monzo has yet to embark on a formal agreement with more established financial institutions, such as the reported tie-up between Starling Bank - Monzo’s principal rival - and RBS, as it ramps up preparations for the launch of its standalone digital banking platform Bo.

Asked whether Monzo had been approached by incumbents looking to emulate the bank’s app-based model, Heath said: “We’ve chatted to plenty of people, nothing particularly formally. I don’t think we have any formal agreements to do that as a company – we’re really transparent, so we’re absolutely happy to help anyone really.”

As Monzo’s brand becomes more established, Heath has also noted a demographic shift in the bank’s customer base.

“We definitely started with a younger more Millennial demographic, but that’s very much not the case anymore.

“On day one it was quite focussed on Shoreditch and very London-centric, now that’s very much the other way and we have a pretty good balance of male and female customers and the age demographic has definitely spread out and become a bit more normalised.”

However, Heath admitted that Monzo may face a shift in its brand image as the bank matures and consolidates its position as one of the UK’ most established digital banking operations.

“I think that brand identity will just naturally change over time. We’re a very long way from being an incumbent, Lloyds has 27 per cent of the market share, there’s 70 or 80 million current accounts, so we’re a very long way from that – and that’s great because that means we’ve got loads of room to grow.”

However, he insisted that the responsibilities the bank has for customers’ money, data and privacy will remain unchanged, as will Monzo’s roots in startup culture.

“I’d like to reinforce, certainly internally, we’re definitely still a startup,” he said. “People are still really keen to do something really fast that really helps the customer and I would really not want to lose that.”



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