A week in the life of Mondo

Innovation Director Martin Jordan has spent the past week getting to grips with Mondo, an exciting new FinTech banking app that has just opened public beta.

After the financial collapse in 2008, the word "bank" grew a number of negative connotations. Trust in major banking brands collapsed and the governments of the world looked to radically overhaul a sector of business that was relatively unchanged in hundreds of years. Fast forward to today and one would wonder what has been achieved through regulation and government intervention. We still have the big banks we're all familiar with. We are still more likely to change our partner than change our bank account provider and there's actually less bank brands to choose from today than there was back then!

Thankfully, in 2016, technology will lead the way in bringing new competition to the high street. In fact, 2016 is being called by many as the "year of the challenger bank". All things being equal, we should see the launch of at least 3 new bank brands over the next 12 months; Starling, Atom and Mondo. Possibly one of the most exciting times to be in banking (no, really!) we are on the cusp of something genuinely game-changing, both from these startups and from their big-bank brethren. And it is with Mondo I have been spending my time over these last few weeks as they come to market with a full public beta of their forthcoming offering...

The Mondo app has been in an alpha state for just under 6 months, engaging FinTech devs in various “MondoHack” days and working in the background to test and build their functionality. This is all on the back of their Open API approach to banking which is most definitely in the future DNA of all European banks thanks to the forthcoming rollout of the EU’s new Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2).

136 days after their initial Alpha launch, the public beta launched on 17 March with an iOS only app (Android is promised). Registering for the app, you were immediately put in a queue to receive your card. Cleverly, Mondo gamified this process, giving each registrant a unique referral link allowed that registrant to share their link and, for every person that signed up off the back of the link, the original registrant was boosted a number of positions up the queue.

I spent a week using Mondo and finding out what it was capable of. Some of the images have been blurred out to avoid identity theft, but mainly to prevent anyone judging my embarrassing purchases. Thanks to everyone at Equator who signed up to join Mondo off the back of my referral link. This meant I went from position 23,000 to position 1 in under 30 minutes!

The app activates

After I reached the top, I sat there for around 12 hours and then the app itself activated and allowed me to add funds. This was relatively easy. It took my details in the traditional form method, asking all the money laundering questions they are obliged to ask. The form was pretty enough but did not use any smart intelligence like scanning drivers licence for details or anything like that (I thought they might use this).

The innovation came from the final stage of the setup. To get a Mondo account open you have to transfer a minimum of £100 to them before they will issue you with a new card and open the account. I could have just opened my banking app (Santander as it happens), and manually enter the sort code etc to make the magic happen but being on an Iphone, I was a fingerprint through Apple Pay away from doing this seamlessly. Not even realising that Apple Pay on phone will go above the £30 limit for contactless!

Well, 10 seconds later, it worked and I had an account open…

Well, 10 seconds later, it worked and I had an account open…

After 48 hours, the screen changed to allow me to register the fact that I’d received the card. Cute…

After 48 hours, the screen changed to allow me to register the fact that I’d received the card. Cute…

Note the non-religious OMW… Nice.

Note the non-religious OMW… Nice.

The card arrives

Nothing spectacular here though I did like the thick blue envelope came in and the ridiculous pink/orange the card is. The sleeve was less interesting – but it did remind me to cover my number if I am geekily going to socialise my adventures in #FutureBanking. Which I did. #geek

Interestingly, the card is already off brand. Like every startup, they’ve rebranded already. Well, you’ve got to have a hobby.

Interestingly, the card is already off brand. Like every startup, they’ve rebranded already. Well, you’ve got to have a hobby.

And we’re in…

The app is lean, fully functional and has currently no authentication layer to get into it. Open the app and you can view all your transactions without a fingerprint or a password in sight.

The simple transaction screen details current balance, today’s spend and recent transactions.

The simple transaction screen details current balance, today’s spend and recent transactions.

Making a purchase

When you buy with your Mondo card, it’s pretty much the same as a normal purchase. However, at this time they are using a Prepay Mastercard debit card. This means it does not have a sort code or account number on it nor does it have your name on it. However, it has contactless and a PIN (they text you this) and becomes active in the app on your first purchase.

The impressive part comes when you buy. In every purchase I have made, it appears on my phone’s home screen within 3 seconds. In one occasion making an online purchase, the Mondo app had confirmed the sale had taken place 5 seconds before the retailer’s site returned a sale success screen – that’s fast!

And once the transaction is in Mondo, it will do some work to enhance the data…if Mondo recognises a store it will “brand” the icon next to it. If it can’t or doesn’t have a relevant icon, it will try and categorise the line for you. It’s quite successful at this…

As you can see, it allows you to add notes and receipt photos to purchases, as well as a map of where you were when you made the purchase. This comes in handy elsewhere…

Living with Mondo

As time goes on, the app slowly comes to life and is more useful. It starts to build intelligence on your purchases and you can interrogate your spending habits in a number of useful ways…

As you can see you can ask it simple questions relating to location of purchase, nature, size and so on. Handily, if you’ve classified the spend as expenses, Mondo will collate these for your viewing pleasure (and your boss’s displeasure). Digging in, we can see all the purchases over £20 for example…

Or by merchant…

Or by merchant…

Or by category…

Or by category…

And there’s a handy dynamic graph on the main page which you can track your spend / income habits as a simple line graph…

And there’s a handy dynamic graph on the main page which you can track your spend / income habits as a simple line graph…

Other bits…

Like with other banking apps, you can now send money by text. Nothing too novel there but this bit is all secured by Touch ID.

You can chat to their staff at any time through a conversation window, sending images if necessary. They’re pretty fast at getting back too. They’ll respond through the window and through your email.

Roundup

Okay, so it’s not a full banking app yet but the platform shows incredible promise. They have thought long and hard about the user experience, maximising the phone’s power where they can, cutting out paper almost completely (you still need the card) and making the interface incredibly intuitive. There’s still some simple things they could have done to make it even slicker but they may be working on this or may be stymied by financial regulation. I hope that, in time, it becomes a learning app – learning not just from your own behaviour, but from others. I expect in time its purchase tagging accuracy will improve, the ability to import and export content and deliver a truly seamless money management experience. I enjoy the wit and humour injected into the app – I did not feel that it was inappropriate for a serious banking app. I was incredibly impressed by the speed of everything. The app runs fast, never stalls and purchases come through incredibly quick.

I think there’s a bright future here. The big banks need to watch this one intently!

Got any new and emerging technology or apps you think we should know about? Get in touch and let us know - we love trialling new things!