Following voluntary employee furloughs and salary cuts in the U.K., Monzo is continuing to take tough decisions in order to shore up its financial position amidst the coronavirus crisis and resulting economic downturn.
The latest move — which TechCrunch understands was being considered prior to the pandemic, though undoubtedly the decision was escalated and made because of it — will see the U.K. challenger bank shutter its customer support office in Las Vegas.
The U.S. outpost employs 165 customer support staff, who will now lose their jobs, and provided overnight customer support to U.K. customers, a much loved feature of the bank. However, that has proven expensive for Monzo, which now claims more than 4 million customers, and disproportionate to the number of support requests made during overnight hours (12% of queries, apparently). Instead, overnight support will now happen from the U.K.
It should also be noted that this doesn’t appear to impact Monzo’s U.S. launch. Vegas support staff were servicing U.K. customers only, with U.S. customer support provided by a small team in London closer to the development and iteration of the Monzo USA beta.
Meanwhile, I also understand that Monzo Las Vegas employees are being given two months’ notice, with full pay and healthcare. And, as it should do, the bank is offering support with CVs and reaching out to other employers, and doing things like running interview prep sessions (however futile that may be with skyrocketing U.S. unemployment). In addition, it is supporting applications for extended healthcare cover after the end of notice period.
Lastly, as I caveated when exclusively reporting on Monzo’s planned furloughs, these measures, although extremely distressful for the employees affected (which should never be forgotten), are largely precautionary as the bank’s board looks to plan responsibly for however long the coronavirus-related economic uncertainty continues. (Related to this, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Monzo closing in on some additional funding from existing investors in the interim.)
In addition, unlike many fintechs, Monzo is a fully licensed bank, and therefore has a regulatory obligation to hold significant cash reserves. Under the license, customer deposits up to £85,000 are also protected as part of the U.K. government’s deposit protection scheme.