Mondo Bank has a long journey ahead of it as it seeks to become the Facebook or Google of banking as venture capitalist Eileen Burbidge envisions.
But it took the upstart bank just 96 seconds to raise £1m from 1,861 people through a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube.
Thousands more would-be investors were left out, demonstrating that there’s significant demand on the part of everyday consumers to invest their own money into building the bank of the future.
For the banking establishment, Mondo’s record-breaking crowdfunding haul, which was a part of a larger £6m funding round led by traditional venture capitalists, might not be cause for concern in pure dollar terms but it does reflect how consumer finance is changing.
— Crowdcube (@Crowdcube) March 3, 2016
Here’s what banks can learn from consumer interest in Mondo.
Banks’ reputation woes run deep
While consumers are clearly intrigued by and ready for a next-generation digital bank, make no mistake about it: some of the interest in Mondo is as much a rebuking of big banks as it as an endorsement of the Mondo concept.
For years, consumers have complained about exorbitant fees, predatory behaviors and antiquated technologies.
While many established banks are trying to address these complaints, for some consumers change has not come fast enough and trust has been lost.
That gives upstarts like Mondo, which is trying to “build the kind of bank that we’d be proud to call our own,” an opportunity to win over consumers even though the brand doesn’t have deep pockets or a hundred-plus years of operating history.
The product matters
Mondo isn’t just talking about building a different kind of bank. It’s responding to what consumers say they want to see.
First, Mondo is free. It plans to make money by “lending in a fair, transparent way.”
Second, it’s attempting to offer the kind of friendly, tech-enabled service many consumers say they desperately want.
Digital experience is the most critical part of customer experience
Banks spend significant amounts operating physical branches and while there’s an argument to be made that this offers them a number of advantages, a growing number of consumers would love nothing more than to never have to step foot in a bank branch again.
These consumers are comfortable with and demand a robust, high-quality digital experience that’s efficient and free of human interaction except where absolutely necessary.
Why can’t banks email you when you receive a payment like PayPal does. HSBC you suck.
— Richard Patey (@RichardPatey) April 25, 2014
Mondo, which one reporter likened to “a mix between a bank and a personal-finance app,” doesn’t just aim to perfect the basic banking experience; it aims to make life easier for customers and offer new functionality that helps them.
For example, Mondo’s app will provide timely notifications to customers, including when they’re almost out of cash.
If that unfortunate notification becomes necessary, Mondo will give customers the option of taking out an overdraft, with fees made clear, or bouncing payments. All with a few taps on their phone.
Consumers like marketplaces
Historically, large banks have used their leverage over customers to be all things to all customers. Thanks to the fintech revolution, that’s slowly changing.
The Mondos of the world threaten to truly embrace the unbundling trend by creating transparent marketplaces in which their customers can easily compare service providers and pick and choose who they do business with.
While there are numerous challenges to building these marketplaces, from integration to user experience, nimble upstarts like Mondo are probably far more likely to succeed than big banks burdened by legacy systems, complex corporate politics and bureaucracy.
For consumers used to using their phones to shop for the best deal, that could put marketplace-less banks at a disadvantage.