We already knew that GoCardless co-founder Tom Blomfield was working on a new U.K. banking startup, but now, thanks in part to a noisy series of Tweets from investors, developers and the company’s own Twitter account, more details have emerged.
Dubbed Mondo, the startup is described as a “full stack” and mobile-first bank, in reference to the fact that it isn’t simply a mobile app piggybacking existing banking software or an existing bank in order to offer a better User Experience. Instead, my understanding is that the company’s plans and accompanying technology is considerably more ambitious.In addition to applying for a full banking license in its own right — meaning that it will be able to generate revenue through lending out bank deposits — Mondo is busy writing its own full stack banking software from scratch.
This is enabling the company to create what Blomfield calls on his LinkedIn profile a “smart” bank, with features that aren’t always possible simply by plugging into legacy banking software and infrastructure that often dates as far back as the 1970s.
In screenshots shared on Twitter by Elieen Burbidge — a partner at London VC firm Passion Capital, who TechCrunch has learned is Mondo’s sole seed investor, having signed a term sheet “in the millions” and completed an investment in April this year — we can see a number of the banking app’s cutting-edge features. These include realtime reporting of withdrawals, geolocation-marked transactions, and peer-to-peer payments.
Realtime reporting of cash withdrawals
Peer-to-peer payments with Emoji!
And Mondo developer James Nicholson reveals there is the inevitable Apple Watch app in development, too.
Apple Watch app
Mondo Vs Starling
What makes the Mondo story even more intriguing — aside from providing what looks like much-needed innovation in the consumer banking sector — is that it isn’t the only full stack and mobile-first banking startup in the U.K.
A direct competitor is Starling (previously Bank Possible), which Blomfield helped start before “tensions” led him to venture out on his own, taking three of Startling’s team with him, according to a February report in the FT. One of those is Mondo co-founder and CCO/Head of Product Jason Bates.
Like Mondo, Starling is also applying for a U.K. banking license. The company, founded by Anne Boden, a banking veteran who was previously COO at Allied Irish Banks Plc., has raised £4 million to date. However, it’s my understanding that Starling is in the process of raising a further £12 million to help sure up its banking license application and ready for launch.
After regulatory changes introduced in July 2013, an applicant technically only needs £1 million in capital, but also has to provide a business plan and assurances it can remain solvent. To that end, it will be interesting to see how quickly either company is able to get regulator approval and if they secure further investment beforehand.
Alongside Blomfield and Bates, Mondo’s other co-founders are Paul Rippon (previously Head of Banking Operations at Allied Irish Banks), Gary Dolman (previously CFO ABN Amro UK), and Jonas Huckestein (previously co-founder Hipdial).
Meanwhile, in an email Starling’s Boden tells me:
As someone who has spent her entire career in banking and technology, I’ve been passionate about transforming this industry. I am the company’s founder and am supported by a team of experts that have extensive knowledge and experience working in the banking and technology industries.
We have recently made a number of high profile appointments in key areas of the business, with John Humpish being appointed Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Marketing and Paul James Chief Operating Officer. Paul is leading the technology challenge and brings onboard years of banking and technology experience from his time at HSBC and Merrill Lynch. He has joined us from Calastone, the Tech50 company where he was COO for three years.