The large amounts of cash that is being invested in challenger banks in the U.K., whether that be startups with a fully fledged banking license or those using the less burdensome e-money regulations, shows no signs of abating. The latest banking fintech to raise a substantial new round is Monese.
The London and Tallinn-based company, which provides a mobile-only current account targeting customers with a ‘thin’ credit file or who are newly arrived in a country, has secured $60 million in Series B funding. Leading the round is Kinnevik, with participation from PayPal, European investor Augmentum Fintech, and International Airlines Group via its loyalty and data business Avios Group Ltd. Existing investors, including Investec’s INVC Fund, also followed on.
Launched in 2015 and claiming nearly 600,000 sign ups in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe, Monese consists of a mobile-based current account and accompanying debit card. It offers most of the things you’d expect of a current account, such as account number and cash deposits and withdrawals. In addition, international money transfer and direct debits are supported.
It offers a free tier, with charges for some transactions, as a way of testing the water. Two monthly paid plans, starting from £4.99 per month, offer reduced or free transactions and a number of other perks.
The headline sell is that a Monese account can be opened in as little as 2 minutes, with technology driving the necessary background checks and KYC procedures. This also makes it attractive to recent migrants or other customers that don’t have a full financial history and therefore may find it more cumbersome to apply for an account with a high street bank.
In fact, as explained in a call with Monese founder Norris Koppel late yesterday afternoon, Monese wants to be the default current account option for customers with a thin credit file, from which it can offer a range of best-in-class financial services in partnership with other financial institutions, including incumbent banks and other fintechs.
That’s similar to other challenger banks and fintechs that want to become your financial control centre or hub, although in this instance Koppel is keen to stress that Monese “isn’t trying to kill banks” but wants to work with them.
Koppel also says that because the majority of Monese customers use the banking app as a primary account, including receiving salaries and paying rent, the company will be able to leverage this transaction data to help them better access credit and other financial services without solely relying on traditional credit score companies, such as Experian, which don’t have anything like the full picture.
Meanwhile, with monthly new customers tripling since the end of 2017, and Monese available in 20 European countries, Koppel tells me the watch word for this new round of funding is scale. He says the bigger vision is to have Monese the first banking option in any country a new or existing Monese customer lands in, with local account numbers instantly available.
Related, the company plans to hire an additional 100 employees across its existing U.K. and Estonian offices as well as a third new office in Portugal by the end of the year.