IBS Journal June 2018


Monese has been a regulated company “from day one”. The firm isn’t regulated as a bank, but as an electronic money institution. Koppel adds that the company is “in full control” of its technology, which has been built to “be scalable across the world”, as well as control over its KYC checks. On whether Monese would like to be regulated as a bank in certain countries or jurisdictions, Koppel states that he isn’t saying “no” to anything, but that right now it isn’t the primary goal. Still, one of Monese’s major goals is to ensure that customers can get everything they would normally get from a regular bank. “Although our licence type is restrictive when it comes to lending and insurance, savings products and investment products, we actually believe that we are giving customers that is even better,” says Koppel.

That solution is the offering of lending and investment products from third parties via a marketplace. Koppel insists that though others in the space operate similar models, none are doing it quite like Monese: “We are building a marketplace that focuses on customers with no credit history or who have a very thin credit profile. Other challenger marketplaces will work quite well when the customer has a history but will fail if you are from abroad.” Monese hopes to utilise the marketplace to help people gain funding who might otherwise be turned down.

Custom-built hub

At launch, Monese originally used an entry-level white-labelled solution from Contis Group to provide its bank accounts, transfers and card payments services, but then switched to PrePay Solutions (PPS). “PPS issues our cards and accounts, while they also operate the UK’s Faster Payments through their platform,” says Koppel. “But from day one we have built our own tech, which sits as a hub for the customer. As we move between territories and grow as a company, we may take control of additional aspects as market conditions dictate and where we feel value can be added.”

Koppel adds that when Monese launched, it could have spent time and money on becoming a full member of Mastercard or Faster Payments. These projects sometimes come with costs that run into the millions, and meant that Monese wanted to take a different approach.

“Our own technology controls all aspects of the user’s experience, but as we mature it sometimes makes more sense to give control of some aspects to third parties,” he says. “When we make these decisions we always ask ourselves how much we want to spend, where we want to take the product and – most importantly – how it might affect our customers.” There’s no need to keep reinventing the wheel, says the

Monese CEO, when third parties can streamline the process of adding value for users.

“Right now, in the UK and Europe we are in perfectly good shape with our setup,” says Koppel. “When we start our planned expansion to Asia and so on, we might need to build relationships with local banks, processors and so on. In each jurisdiction we are likely to have different suppliers connected to our platform, which we can use to make domestic payments, store money, move it around and so on.” From the outside, adds Koppel, it might look like Monese operates on white-labelled technology, but that’s not the case, it’s just the way the firm operates in certain regions.

Around the world

Monese is planning rapid expansion over the next few years, particularly when

it comes to geographies. “We’ll be adding new countries quickly in order to become truly global,” says the CEO. If everything goes according to plan, the firm will soon have more than one million customers. Koppel aims to keep the company focused on its key principles: “We want to help people live their financial lives without worry; help them to save money, help them to move it around wherever they are. The way we talk to customers and the way in which we focus on them is radically different compared with others.”

Business account are also in the works and will be going live “pretty soon”. Monese is focusing on microbusiness accounts for one or two-man operations and companies, especially when one of those people is from abroad. “I think right now, microbusiness is wildly underserved, particularly in the UK and Europe,” says Koppel. Credit is going live on the app in the near future, as well as budgeting and money management features. Monese has also recently introduced a zero monthly fee Starter package designed for less active customers to complement its premium subscription fee package (£4.95, or $6.61) which enables those who use Monese actively as their primary account to save money.

Koppel can’t stress enough just how global Monese’s ambitions are. He states that when the firm first appeared, many thought that it was a UK-only venture, and would stay within the confines of that geography. Now, he says, Monese is “spreading its wings” and the sky is the limit. “We will replace people’s banks completely,” he says. “There is no need for them to hang on to their old accounts; we will give them everything they need – a premium experience from on-boarding onwards.”

The number of mobile workforce across the world is ever-increasing, and is expected to reach 1 billion people worldwide by 2035. When they’re in need of financial services, Monese will be ready.

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