500 People In London Will Get Access To This New Smart Bank Today

A full stack mobile-first smart bank, Mondo announced the distribution of 500 Mondo Alpha cards to users in London. Anyone in London who is at least 18 years old can sign up for Mondo Alpha cards. Through this pilot, Mondo wants to launch the prototype to a small group of people to see how people will react to it and use it. They have clearly mentioned that the product won’t be 100% polished and bug-free, at least initially. Mondo Alpha, which is a version even more incomplete than Beta, will not have features like faster payments, direct debit, or peer-to-peer payments.

Mondo is different from legacy high street banks that have thousands of branches because its entire experience is designed for the smartphone. The company wants to build a bank for the 21st century and is looking to provide the experience of private banking driven by technology. Mondo is still in the process of obtaining banking cards and it expects to have them in 2016. The startup has applied to the Bank of England for a banking license. Deposits will be limited to a maximum of £50,000 until further restrictions are lifted.

The first 500 will get a MasterCard prepaid debit card and access to Mondo’s iPhone app. Mondo Alpha is not available to Android users.The Android app is expected to be released next year. In total, Mondo plans to give away 3000 Mondo Alpha cards. However, they are launching with the first wave of 500 cards today. Interested people in London can sign up to get on a waiting list on the company website. After Mondo Alpha, Mondo is planning a better version of the mobile-first bank with Mondo Beta. With Mondo Alpha, users will -

  • Get access to a MasterCard card.
  • Be able to load money onto it and use it in stores, online and at contactless terminals (including TfL, Transport for London).
  • Get access to features like instant payment notifications and spending summaries.
  • Get the ability to temporarily freeze the card if it’s lost.
  • Access to their API if interested.

Regarding the last feature, a few weeks ago, Mondo also announced Mondo APIs, allowing people to access their Mondo banking data. Mondo has been organizing hackathons in their office to encourage designers and developers to building products using Mondo APIs. Their second hackathon is scheduled for later this month. Their first hackathon in October 2015 resulted in some great products like Mondo-Uber integration, which shows a user’s Uber trip map within the Mondo app, expense reporting within the Mondo app, Mondo map to track transactions on a map, Mondometer gauge to indicate how much money is spent, Zeet to push receipts from physical and online points-of-sale into bank statements when making a card payment and Apple watch integration.

It is quite apparent that Mondo is not just an app using existing software or an existing bank to offer its services but it is writing its own full stack banking software from the ground up. Atom is the latest challenger bank in the UK that has received a licence from banking regulators. Mondo is strongly pursuing the branchless banking trend which is not only gaining momentum within US banks but also in the UK. In fact, a study by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) states that bank branch use fell 6% in the past one year as more and more people in the UK are adopting digital banking.