How Monzo used radical transparency to build a bank for the people

At the Digital Marketing Innovation Summit in London, Tristan Thomas, head of marketing and community at Monzo, outlined how Monzo has used radical transparency to build a banking brand that people actually trust

8Oct

Banks are notoriously viewed as untrustworthy by their customers. Last year, more than 45% of respondents to WEF's Global Shapers Survey stated that they disagreed that they trust banks to be fair and honest. And just 28% of the more than 30,000 millennials surveyed said they agreed with the statement. With a quarter of today's customer-base being millennials, this is an alarming statistic.

Today, appealing to a millennials, here defined as individuals born after 1980, is vital for all industries, and a sure-fire way to achieve this is through investing technology. Banks are no exception. Having grown up in a world shaped by digitization and the growth of the internet, to name just a few of the plethora of innovations that have marked the last two decades, millennial customers put more faith in technology than anywhere else, and definitely more so than in banks. This, plus the mistrust in financial institutions resulting from the financial crash of 2008, has led to the growth of the fintech industry, redefining the way we interact with money.

"A key reason fintech companies have flourished is a lingering distrust in banks", CNBC reported.

One of the most successful fintech banks in the UK today is London-based startup Monzo. Founded in 2015, it recently reached the one million customer mark. Speaking at the Digital Marketing Innovation Summit in London on October 3, 2018, Tristan Thomas, head of marketing and community at Monzo, outlined how the company has used radical transparency to build trust among customers and build a bank for the people.

External transparency

"Probably our biggest barrier as a new bank is trust. One of the ways we go about (building trust) is through what we call "radical transparency", which is sharing everything with the public," Thomas began.

He went on to give the example of how Monzo's website has a counter at the bottom showing exactly how many customers have currently signed up to the bank. This is updated every 10 minutes. "Not many other banks do this," he pointed out.

A second example Tristan offered to outline Monzo's approach to external transparency is its "roadmap", an open Trello board which shows exactly what Monzo plans to build in the future and what sort timelines it expects for the development.

"As a customer this creates amazing engagement you don't normally have with any company, let alone a bank," Thomas stated. "Instead of getting the normal spiel you get from regular banks where you write in and give feedback, you're told they're passing it on and it never really goes anywhere. We thank customers for feedback and add it to our Trello board so they can really see the progress that's being made. It also helps us to convey what we are doing and explain to some customers why their feature is going to take maybe 12 months to build."

Additionally, Thomas noted that Monzo always puts up its annual review online in very simple words outlining exactly what's going on, what this means for customers and what the company's plans are for the future.


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Internal transparency

"That's the external side of transparency," Thomas explained. "But if you don't do it internally, then that's just marketing and it's very easy for consumers to see when it is just marketing. So, you have to do practice transparency internally as well.

"Every single email that's sent in Monzo is copied into an email list that everyone can see," he added. "This breeds this incredible trust between people, because you can see that every single person makes mistakes and you can see that everyone is really human."

Meetings are also open to every single member of staff to join, as well as, crucially, the documents from these meetings being made available to everyone, which is all a part of Monzo's commitment to "defaulting to transparency".

According to Thomas, Monzo's mantra of transparency has a hugely positive effect on personal development for employees, as well as growing trust in customers.

"By sharing all of this at every area of the company, we are helping everybody to see how we go about building Monzo, the failures we're experiencing and the successes too," Thomas concluded.

Tristan Thomas, head of marketing and community at Monzo, was talking at Innovation Enterprise's Digital Marketing Innovation Summit in London. See the agenda for Digital Marketing Innovation Summit in New York on February 4–5, 2019, and book your tickets HERE.

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