Feeling completely uncool today as I chat with serial FinTech entrepreneur and the official coolest person in UK FinTech – Tom Blomfield, founder and CEO of the bank that lives in your smartphone, Monzo (or, as they were known at the time of recording, Mondo).
Journalists are climbing over each other to write about this guy – and even more are in the waiting list to get one of Monzo’s hot pink cards. Although it’s still not got a proper banking license, Monzo is being touted as the modern, smarter alternative to the clunky big banks.
'Every industry thinks they're immune to the rise of technology. You see them slowly grow until they fall of a cliff.' - Tom Blomfield, Monzo -
It’s a fascinating chat, and not just for those in FinTech. The stuff we talk about is of interest to anyone who values innovation, or is looking to get a bit more customer-focused in their own business.
We talked about:
• The story of the hot pink bank card;
• How Monzo broke Crowdcube by raising £1 million in 96 seconds;
• Why people are ready for a branchless bank;
• The technology issues that make big banks so slow;
• What’s preventing big banks from changing;
• Trust and security – and why some people would rather bank with Google than HSBC;
• The big retail banks’ reactions to Monzo;
• How his mindset to making money differs from what people are used to;
• And the way customer feedback is central to everything they do at Monzo.
Our philosophy (is) let’s use all of this technology and know-how to identify your problems as a consumer and help you solve them. If you happen to buy a financial product at some point down the line great… Our cost to serve you as a customer is low enough, we don’t have to be throwing credit cards and PPI down your throat.
His predictions for retail banking:
Businesses are making quite a lot of money doing incremental improvements and then a bunch of challengers come in with a product that isn’t fully featured, targets a niche audience, looks a little bit like a toy, and targets a much lower price point. And it is dismissed as not relevant. Then very quickly that disruptive innovation iterates and iterates and improves and improves and becomes a mass market product which is fully featured and priced dramatically lower than everyone else and takes the market away.
It is central to everything we do. Every single member of the team does customer support.
Combining back end tech with front-end insight:
I think that is our single biggest advantage… If you are hugely customer centric and you know what you want to build but your IT system doesn’t let you build it then it is pointless. If you are entirely tech focused for the sake of technology without understanding what your customers need, again, you have built something useless. So the two hand in hand let you do some crazy stuff.