COVID casts doubt over Monzo’s future

The Coronavirus has cast "significant doubt" on Monzo's future, according to its annual report, which revealed a £113.8 million loss for the year - up from £47.2 million during the same period in 2019.

Only a moderate increase in revenues to £67.2 million - up from 19.7 million last year - came as operating expenses rose from £33.4 million in 2019 to £70.4 million during the most recent 12 months.

Lending rose to £143.9 million - up from £19.2 million the previous year - but credit losses were also up to £20.3 million for the year.

Despite containing several positive signs - being named the UK’s most recommended brand by YouGov, getting the highest number of net account switching gains, and making it to 4.4 million account holders since 2015 – the results spelled out the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Founder and now president Tom Blomfield explained that organic customer growth has slowed as word-of-mouth drops, along with reductions in revenues and higher credit losses during lockdown. “Our focus right now is on becoming a sustainable company that’s here for the long haul,” he added.

New chief executive TS Anil admitted there was a “significant impact” to be felt from the economic downturn, but pledged “decisive measures to reduce the financial impact” and promised “powerful new products” to help people manage their money better, “as well as drive revenue and cement our place as the UK’s most recommended and fastest growing bank”.

Crucially for Monzo, both overseas and UK spending has decreased significantly, reducing fee income while restrictions remain in place. Promised product launches have also been delayed because they were not the right fit for customers during the crisis, further hitting revenues.

While fundraising has been achieved during the period, Monzo was forced to take a 40 per cent discount on its recent £60 million top-up round.

All of this indicated that “there are material uncertainties that cast significant doubt upon the group’s ability to continue as a going concern".

The digital challenger bank stated that it is working hard to avoid further layoffs - on top of 120 already made - but warned that the impacts of COVID-19 are likely to outlast the UK's furlough scheme and the salary cuts many execs have taken.

When figures were compiled in February, Monzo reported 1,495 employees, up from 713 the previous year, meaning staffing costs increased from £25.7 million to £77.5 million year-on-year.

“We’re confident that although we’ve had to make, and will continue to make, difficult decisions, such as announcing redundancies, we’ll come out stronger and deliver fantastic products and services to our customers,” the directors added.

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