By Daniel Lanyon on Monday 1 April 2019
Banking disruptors are increasingly keen to grow revenues alongside user numbers as competition heats up and the sector matures.
Digital challenger bank Monzo crowned a bumper year in 2018 by coming first for customer service in an independent survey, stealing the title from regular winner First Direct. But will its growing legion of coral card-carriers ever pay for its expanding array of services?
The bank, which is now testing a new paid-for premium offering, thinks they might just do so. 'Monzo Plus' - as it is being called - even allows users paying a monthly fee to have Monzo cards in colours other than its famous ‘hot coral’ colour.
Monzo says it recently ended a programme of customer research, including in-depth interviews with 21 Monzo users, to understand what they thought of premium bank accounts and it is now testing the feature for a small group of existing users.
“People valued different premium features differently, depending on things like their level of financial knowledge, family situation or lifestyle. Those with families valued perks which applied to the entire household (like gadget insurance, contents insurance or a National Trust pass). People who commuted talked about railcards, while those with more financial knowledge were interested in getting perks for spending money,” the firm said in a recent blog post.
Monzo appears to be charging £11 per month for a 12 month contract to a group of users. This allows for £400 to be taken out abroad instead of the current limit of £200. It also comes with free travel insurance as well as an ‘emergency money’ feature. This lets the user access up to £1000 in local currency if you lose your card or it’s stolen. New colours for cards include ‘lagoon blue’ and ‘midnight sky’.
However, in a blog post the firm emphasised that it believed users' propensity to pay a monthly fee for a premium offering would need to be ‘flexible’ in order to meet demand. Another user has reported that Monzo has offered a £3 per month option for six months which includes just the custom card colours alongside ‘merch’ and a custom payment link. A spokesman for Monzo said the £11 price point was not fixed.
The potential pivot for Monzo, which has so far avoided charging customers for its account, would closely align with the Revolut model which last year rolled out a series of paid-for premium offerings as well as N26 which launched its own paid-for option this year.