And now for something completely different

Monese may be counted among the glut of challengers in the UK and European market, but it has a model that sets it apart. Norris Koppel, CEO and founder, spoke with IBS Journal to showcase what it has to offer the migrants of the world

Senior Fintech Reporter Alex Hamilton


t seems that not a week can go by without big news about a challenger bank in the UK or Europe. The fintech world is often abuzz with the latest from this agile sector, with even the

largest banks beginning to wake up and smell the coffee. Yet, with retention rates still at surprisingly high levels, customer loyalty has become an unexpected battleground.

Some of the largest names in the space have begun to tout the number of active – or daily – users on their services. Conversion from flavour-of-the-month to primary bank account is a challenge most are running into. Step forward Monese, which launched as the UK’s first mobile-only bank in 2015. It has more than 400,000 registered users in 20 countries, serving customers in 10 different languages. About 70% of incoming funds, according to CEO Norris Koppel, go to full-time primary accounts with pay cheques going into them every month.

The company aims to make banking “universally available to everyone”. Koppel’s inspiration lay in his own experience when moving to the UK from Estonia. He found that he could not open a bank account because he had no credit history and no proof of address. Those two things are the “key blockers” when someone wants to move to a new country, he says. Monese was founded on the principal of giving people a primary bank right off the bat, without the need to get involved with major players first.

The Monese app also works cross-borders. Users can move between countries and with a single tap can have a compliant bank account in their new region. “Our customer can go through the process of on- boarding in two minutes,” says Koppel, stressing that it removes the hassle of setting up new accounts overseas. With that in mind, the bank aims to become a global player, working on further expansion outside of Europe. “We have our eyes on some Asian and Middle- Eastern markets,” he says.

Travelin’ man (and woman)

Unlike other challengers and digital players (“Who are doing an amazing job, by the way”), Monese is not targeting the millennial market. “We have taken a different route,” says Koppel. “We believe there is a massive audience out there that is completely underserved and we call it ‘The Unstoppables’.” There is a global, mobile workforce that is ambitious and ready to travel all over the world for work and experiences, states the Monese CEO. “These people are creative, skilled – we’re talking about designers, architects, technologists. All these people are fed up with banks saying no to them because of these outdated policies and paperwork requirements.”

Targeting the “mobile workforce” (migrants) has resulted in “incredibly positive results” that were, despite being very much | © IBS Intelligence 2018

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