3rd May, 2019

Monzo and Starling, Helping to Build (Financial) Relationships

A look at the Starling and Monzo joint account creation and activation processes.

The creation of a joint account can be a digital minefield for banks, seeking to balance simplified application processes with security and risk mitigation practices that ensure the protection of customer privacy and funds, though often failing to strike a balance between the two.

The recent rise of the 'challenger' or neo-banks as they are sometimes referred to has - as they often have in other spheres of financial customer experience - again served to challenge the prevailing methods of joint account applications, tilting the balance back in favor of simplification and ease of acquisition with due consideration for the regulatory driven considerations of KYC and terms and conditions disclosure.

Today we will take a look at two such 'challenger' providers, Starling and Monzo, to understand how they have shifted the needle towards simplicity and in doing-so, how they are helping to build financial relationships throughout the United Kingdom.

The two providers have a storied history, despite there relative infancy in the banking sector, with each seen by many as the natural adversary of the other and with the allegiances of numerous staff in each having shifted from one to the other throughout their brief operational timeline. Subsequently it was unsurprising that following Starling's launch of joint accounts in June 2018, with the announcement of the "UK s first mobile application process" for joint account applications, Monzo followed suit in August 2018 with a similarly targeted offering.

Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank, said at the time of the launch: Joint accounts are notoriously difficult to set up and cancel. However our new technology removes the pain of setting up a joint account by letting our customers do it from the comfort of their own home".

The technology Ms Boden refers to is Google Nearby, an API accessible Google service that links users that are operating in proximity to each other. Readers can learn more about Google Nearby here.

The result is a customer journey that facilitates what the bank describes as a 'sofa based setup', wherein the bank takes the existing verified profiles of the two Starling customers to create a singular joint account. The pre-condition of course being that both applicants are existing Starling customers, though given an application for a sole account with Starling takes around five minutes to create for most customers, the process of going from non-customer to joint-account customer could hardly be considered an arduous one; with the joint account application likewise taking around five minutes to complete.

Below readers can observe some of the initial information and application screens for an existing Starling customer that is seeking to create a joint account.

Starling Joint Application Initial Steps

Monzo, having been quick to follow Starling's suit, deployed a joint account application process that was similar yet not quite as technology laden.

The Monzo setup, like Starling, relied on the joint-account applicants both being existing customers - though where Starling uses proximity, Monzo relies on native notifications and assurances of the agreement of the second applicant to participate in the process (at least initially).

The advantage of the Monzo approach of course is that the applicants don't need to be in the same room in order to facilitate the application - which some may argue increases risk - though in the end, such risk is ultimately mitigated by the consent of the second applicant which occurs during the later phase of the application journey.

In the video below we have documented the process, from end-to-end, wherein two existing customers of Monzo have sought to create a joint account and activate their cards once received.

It is worth noting the way the bank deals with the issues of customer consent, likewise terms and conditions presentation both of which clearly differ from 'big bank' norms.

Monzo Joint Account Application (End-to-End)

(N.B. turn on audio for narration)

What do you think, has Monzo got it right or does Starling have the better approach?

Contact us today to continue the discussion, ask questions or get access to even more insights via a free trial of our Cumulus platform where we capture over thirty-thousand customer journeys in digital banking channels.