Meet the British mobile banks showing the US how it’s done

Monzo and Starling are transforming UK spending.

and Starling are banks you’ve probably never heard of if you’re outside the UK, but they’ve been leading a quiet revolution to challenge traditional banks to do better — and it’s been working. Both banks live on your phone through apps on iOS and Android, with no brick-and-mortar locations or clerks at desks. Instead, at Monzo’s headquarters in London, employees’ dogs commingle with engineers, support staff, and other workers in the buzz of a startup environment you’d typically find in Silicon Valley.

Mobile-only banks are a totally new approach to banking in the UK, with the ability to see real-time transactions as they happen, easily split bills with friends, and use cards overseas with no fees. All of these features, and more, have led millions in Britain to now trust Monzo and Starling with their hard-earned cash. With just word-of-mouth and very little advertising, these two banks are showing bigger British banks — and the US — how 21st century banking is really done.

Both Starling and Monzo offer very similar cards and bank accounts that are quickly becoming popular with millennials across the UK — Monzo recently crossed 2 million customers and says it’s adding 200,000 more each month, and Starling has more than 550,000 customers. You can easily track your spending habits in their mobile apps and instantly see when a payment occurs via mobile notifications. Most other banks in the UK take days to process card payments, so you never truly know what your actual bank balance is. Monzo’s and Starling’s apps are both in real time, so you know whether you can make that big purchase or not. The apps are also very well designed and easy to use, unlike many of the cumbersome apps that have been built by big banks.


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