No industry has felt the force of falling trust more so than the banking and financial industry, which has been under scrutiny since the financial crash, and trust in these institutions is in continued crisis, with YouGov stating that only 55% of Brits trust the banks.
So how did unknown, mobile-only bank, Monzo, rise to challenge the Big Five High Street banks, in one of the public’s most scrutinised sectors? Well, they know their brand tribe well, they listened to concerns, and they’ve used technology to adapt and transform the banking experience to meet these needs.
When the bank first started, it had the tech-savvy, smartphone users in mind. Banks in the UK currently offer customers limited or no instant access to financial data, and for the insta-generation, the long-winded logins and access that the high street banks currently offer, doesn’t match the expectations of this technologically-enabled audience.
Payments made with Monzo cards trigger notifications in real-time to your phone, where historical transactions can be viewed and categorised instantly. You can also freeze the card, track and organise expenses and view an overview of spending habits; The transparency and openness, not only of the platform, but the company ethos as a whole, is a well needed step towards aligning banking institutions with their audiences expectation. It’s giving over control, and empowering users with the freedom to control their finances, at their fingertips.
Whilst the UK Government is looking into legislation to require existing banks to demystify and comply by adopting standards for secure and open APIs, Monzo already released a prototype API within a year of the company’s founding.
Whilst problem-solving payments with the techies in minds, it also answers a wider posing issue for this millennial user group: help managing money. A transparent guide for where and when your money is spent, categorised and visualised to be easily digested, this is a refreshing perk for a user group for whom, managing money and budgets is one of their top three money concerns.
By understanding and listening to this audience, Monzo continues to deliver perks with them in mind. Considering their user pool for whom “experience is now the new status symbol” (more so than material possession) - Monzo is one of the only banks offering no fees on spending abroad, and when they introduced fees for cash withdrawals earlier this year, they consulted their 400,000+ person user base for feedback on their proposal, and formed a compromised solution to solve their existing business problem, without alienating their tribe.
And this wasn’t their first smart move to gain trust and reputation amongst their user pool. The brand grew using recommendations through the use of their golden tickets. CEO Tom Blomfield disclosed that over 90% of the new and growing customer base, has expanded via peer to peer referral. Using a cool mix of scarcity and exclusivity, the system encouraged users to share a limited number of golden tickets with their friends or family, enabling peers to score brownie points amongst their own social circles, as well as be part of a rapidly growing trend; a smart tactic given recommendations from friends and family continues to be the most credible source of advertising.
When you have a great product that people love, the tell their friends about it because they just want to share the good news. This is powerful. But when you combine this with the network effect, where the product becomes more valuable the more user there are, this is accelerated further.
Monzo’s success sets the stage and expectation that will become a hygiene factor for banks in the future. It’s a clear example of how by listening to, and tapping into a tribe, brands can gain and transfer user trust creating a truly authentic experience for customers, even in these most untrusted of sectors.