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Startup bank Monzo heads to US as monthly sign-ups hit 250,000

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Hot coral: Monzo's iconic debit card. Photo: Monzo

App-only bank Monzo has announced plans to launch in the US, its first market outside of the UK.

Monzo said on Thursday it would roll out in the US through a series of in-person sign-up events for its iconic “hot coral” debit cards.

“We’ve just crossed 2m customers, our TV ad is going great, we should have a quarter of a million new customers this month, and we’re contribution margin positive here in the UK, so it feels like the UK business is on track to be really successful,” Tom Blomfield, the CEO and founder of Monzo told Yahoo Finance UK. “Now feels like the right time to start thinking about our next market.”

Blomfield said sign-up events will be held in LA, San Fransisco, New York, and other major US cities before rolling out online applications.

“It’s a great way to build an avid, grass roots community,” Blomfield said. “Secondly, and probably more importantly, it’s a way of getting feedback on the product and how people use their money and think about their money.

“The way we’ve thought about our strategy so far is to pick one market and to really deeply understand the customers and how they think about their money and tailor the product.”

The launch marks Monzo’s first expansion beyond the UK, where it was founded in 2015. Today, the app-only bank has over 2m users and is known for its slick app, which offers features such as instant spend notifications, the ability to turn cards on and off, and a Facebook-like feed of transactions. It is one of the UK’s few “unicorns” — a private tech business worth over $1bn.

Monzo CEO Tom Blomfield talks at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2017. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch

“Ultimately, I think everyone in the world, not just the UK and the US, is going to shift to digital banking,” Blomfield said. “In 10 or 20 years, I honestly don’t see the role of branches. The last time I booked a flight, I didn’t go into a travel agency, whereas 20 years ago that’s what everyone did.

“We’re at 2m customers in the UK, I see no reason why we couldn’t reach similar or greater levels of success in the US in the next two or three years.”

Monzo’s rapid growth has caught the eye of venture capital investors. The company has raised over £200m from investors including leading European VC Accel, New York-based Thrive Capital, and Massachusetts-based General Catalyst.

Monzo’s announcement comes just hours after UK-based rival Revolut said it plans to launch in Australia, its first market outside of Europe.

“I just think it’s a sign we have a super successful UK fintech sector,” Blomfield said. “You’re going to be seeing all of these companies announcing expansions honestly around the world over the next few years.”

Monzo’s launch in the US will initially be in partnership with Ohio-based Sutton Bank but Blomfield said plans were underway for Monzo to get its own banking licence.

“From day one you can use it as your main account and put your salary straight in,” he said.

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Oscar Williams-Grut covers banking, fintech, and finance for Yahoo Finance UK. Follow him on Twitter at @OscarWGrut.

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