Stevan Popovic'

Monzo – It’s Winning Interface & Strategic Advantage

February 4th, 2017

I got my Monzo card in April 2016. Excited by the idea of a challenger bank mixing it up with the old school, I topped it up and started spending.

At first, I was underwhelmed. Apart from notifications and more personality in the wording of it’s updates, I’m not sure how much extra it offered me in terms of actual features.

Fast-forward 7 months and I have now moved all my consumer spending over to my Monzo. There are a few small features that have convinced me to do so; mainly the spend tracking and target setting features.

Displace the interface

If Monzo does beat the traditional banks, it will have truly been a David and Goliath story. At this point in time, Monzo still isn’t a proper bank. You can’t set up standing orders. You’re unable to pay your salary into it. You can’t pay friends or family who themselves don’t have a Monzo card.

Monzo vs Natwest

Monzo vs Natwest

But myself and many others are still moving all our spend there. Why? Because they’ve won the interface. They have made a product which is easier to use, nicer to use and has a few key features that provide utility. People are prepared to wait for the full bank creditation (under the promise it is coming) and use it for these features right now. What is so striking to me is that these features are specifically wins in the interface; how we, the users interact with the product and not the service as a whole. Ben Thompson spoke about the importance of the interface in a recent Exponent podcast and this is a great example of that (if anyone has the link – please let me know!).

Monzo’s strategic edge

What’s more surprising, or perhaps it isn’t, is that the features Monzo have built today should have been easy for existing banks to create. Spend tracking. Notifications. Existing banks like Natwest have the data and could provide this, yet they chose not to.

To make it worse, Monzo has a strategic benefit on it’s side, whether by plan or by fluke. For maximum benefit of the tracking and target features, all your spend needs to be through Monzo. As I did, the tendency is for consumers to move all their spend across and commit to one banking service. When Monzo do become a bank, I’ll be paying my salary into them too.

Sorry, Natwest.

Well played, Monzo, well played. You won me with the interface.