Executive Briefing

Monzo is a bank that customers actually like. Its CEO explains why.

Can the UK’s fast-growing, mobile-native bank make it in America?

Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield
Courtesy Monzo

Like many people, I first learned about Monzo — which says it’s the UK’s fastest-growing bank — from a customer. I couldn’t help but notice when my friend used his impossibly bright “hot coral” Monzo debit card to split a restaurant bill. What is that thing?

Monzo, founded in 2015, is one of a handful of new-wave UK banks, based on the internet without physical branches. Instead of winning customers with heritage, a zillion financial products, or sheer size, it focuses on useful software, good design, and customer service.

And it’s working: It’s ranked the no. 1 bank in the UK by one major survey, and is signing up tens of thousands of new customers per week — 260,000 in June.

Now Monzo is launching in the US, hoping its focus on the customer can win attention away from both big banks and upstarts like Square’s Cash Card, which had 3.5 million customers in June (pdf).

Monzo held two beta sign-up events this month, in San Francisco and Santa Monica, and is launching with its colorful debit card and a simple feature set, planning to iterate quickly.

The US is a different banking market than the UK — credit cards with rewards are a much bigger deal here, and Apple is now entering the field — but Monzo’s successful execution in the UK makes it one to watch.

Last month at Monzo’s London headquarters, I asked CEO Tom Blomfield for an overview of the company and his approach. We talked about Monzo’s most popular features, its unusual long-term business model, the plan for the US, and why Monzo publishes its internal “tone of voice” guide right on its website. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

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