How a desire to destroy NatWest inspired him to create the UK’s first smart bank. Tom shared his personal story of how building his first website at 14 years old for a local estate agent eventually led to him becoming the CEO of one of the most exciting and innovative banks in the world – Mondo.
WHAT'S THE BACKSTORY?
Everyone has a nightmare banking story. If you’re like most people then you’ll have a new one every few weeks. One of Tom’s most recent was when he was cycling around London for two hours in the rain during his lunch break trying to make a CHAPS payment for the deposit on his first home.
The problem? NatWest needed a debit card to make the payment. He could either wait two days, come back with a paper statement or show them his chequebook. Who even uses chequebooks these days? And why are banks only ever busy at lunchtime? They wouldn’t let him ask another cashier to print a statement or accept an online statement as proof. Oh, and CHAPS payments stop at 2pm. So he had to fill out a form and post it to head office.
How does a business like this survive? (Well they did have one bailout). It took banks years to use the Internet for anything more inventive than delivering paper statements and other innovations that are primarily driven by cost reduction. Banks are stuck in the 19th century. It was time for a change.
WHAT'S HE DOING ABOUT IT?
Tom started by asking what he would do if he could build a bank from scratch. He’s not your typical banker (not even close) so he wasn’t looking to make incremental improvements or innovate from within one of the main high street banks. Instead he wanted to bypass the whole system and set up a new kind of bank that was as smart as your phone. One that updates your balance instantly, gives you intelligent notifications, and is easy to use.
Mondo is everything your high street bank is not. You have complete control over your account and can do most things at the tap of a button – from sending money, freezing your card, submitting expenses, even managing your budget with a detailed breakdown of your monthly spend. In short, Mondo is like a Swiss Army Knife to help you manage your finances.
After launching with a pre-paid debit card in February 2015 they have since raised £4m – of which £1m was raised in 96 seconds (setting an equity crowdfunding record) and have applied to become a fully regulated bank. What makes Mondo unique is that they are focused on solving problems, even if they are not linked to financial products. If you think about it, what other bank would greet you when you arrive on holiday and tell you the exchange rate? Most simply block you.
NEXT STEPS …
Mondo is focusing on all the problems that banks have never tried to solve. They aim to be fully licensed within the next few weeks and already have 70,000 plus people on the waiting list. Welcome to the bank of the future.
Note: At the time of writing, the company was called Mondo. They have since changed their name to Monzo.
Rip It Up, Start Again
Lulu Laidlaw-Smith presents Rip It Up, Start Again - a series of events showcasing the best innovative start-ups.