Our recent hands on review of Monzo showed just how useful such services can be, particularly in an age where we want to do everything on the go.
We're going to review a competitor to Monzo; another cutting edge mobile banking service known as Monese. We'll take a look at what's on offer, how easy it is to use, the security of the service and much more. Here's our review of Monese.
What is Monese?
Monese is a mobile based banking service which has been in existence since 2015. It has no branches, making it completely mobile and incredibly attractive to those wanting a streamlined, modern method of managing their money.
For those with no credit history, no UK address and no utility bills, opening a UK bank account has historically been very difficult. The founder of Monese, Norris Koppel, found himself in precisely this situation, and decided to come up with a solution.
Since its launch, Monese has acquired more than 500,000 customers and has handled around half a billion transactions. Accounts can be opened in literally a few minutes and are available to anyone living in the European Economic Area (EEA).
What does Monese offer?
Monese is a banking provider located in the UK, which can get you signed up and allocated a UK bank account pretty much instantly. The secure mobile app brings all the usual features you'd expect from a current account, therefore can be used as your main bank account or a supplementary one.
As a mobile only banking service, Monese offers some distinctive features their customers can enjoy. These include:
- Zero credit check or proof of address required
- App based control over your money from your smartphone
- Full current account features such as direct debits, online shopping and debit card
- FCA registered for peace of mind
Most interesting here is the lack of requirement to have a UK address. This makes Monese particularly interesting for digital nomads and location independent workers who need a UK bank account but do not have a fixed UK address.
In this situation, the service also provides international currency transfers to more than 25 countries, with no hidden charges. The exchange rates are fair, tracking the base rates published at the time of transfer, but there is a service fee of 0.5% to 2% depending on the type of account used.
Premium accounts eliminate these fees, which can be accessed for £14.95 a month. This could be a worthwhile investment if international transfers are a regular occurrence for you.
In addition to the standard and premium current accounts, Monese offers a business account feature which can also be opened instantly via the app. This gives the user access to a business debit card, expense reporting, transaction categorisation and invoicing.
The Monese products
Monese offers three levels of account provision, all costing a different amount each month. Depending on the level of account you hold, you'll be charged different amounts for obtaining a credit card, for using the foreign exchange service and for making withdrawals. Topping up also comes at a different charge depending on which account you've chosen.
To help you compare the products on offer, this table details what you need to know about the three available packages:
|£1 each time
|2% at the Post Office or 3% via PayPoint
|Six free per month then £1
|£1 at the Post Office or 2.5% via PayPoint
On the face of it, the Premium account looks like the one to go for. The cost, however, is relatively high in terms of what you get. Comparable traditional accounts which cost in this region usually offer perks such as free travel insurance or mobile phone cover.
Low users will probably find the free account enough to get started with, but if you find you're using the service on a regular basis the £4.95 for the next step up account will soon pay for itself.
Setting up Monese
Monese have focused on making the sign up process incredibly efficient and stress-free. There are no lengthy forms to fill in and no need to leave the comfort of your own home to sign up. The sign up process works like this:
- Download the Monese app from either the Google Play Store or the App Store for iOS
- Follow the registration process which will include a verification requirement
- Start using your account instantly to send and receive money
- Receive your debit card within 3 -5 working days (or up to 14 if you live outside the UK)
Although Monese does not require a UK address and credit record, it doesn't mean you won't be subjected to some form of ID verification. The law requires that all financial institutions identify their customers, but Monese have found a quick and easy way to do this.
Those who have lived at the same address for some time will be able to follow an automatic verification pathway. They will be required to snap an image of their passport, driving license or national ID card, and then pose for a short video selfie.
If the address is not automatically verified, customers can submit a second piece of ID to complete verification.
If this is not possible, manual verification is the next option. To do this, you can either make a video call from the app directly to the customer service team for an instant verification or can submit proof of address within the app for verification within two working days.
Overall, there's not much Monese could do to make the sign up process any easier. If everything goes to plan, most sign ups take less than a minute to complete, making this one of the fastest ways to open a UK bank account.
Is Monese safe?
As with any UK financial provider, Monese is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and adheres to their standards in terms of security. They have a Trustpilot rating of 9.2 out of 10 from more than 6,000 reviews.
Account holders will only be able to access their Monese account from a single device, which goes some way to preventing potential fraudsters from accessing the account from elsewhere. If required, users can add a new device, but it will need to be manually authorised using a complex authentication process for every use.
You might be wondering about the safety of your money with a relatively new banking provider such as this. Monese have gone some way to addressing such concerns by stating that all customers' money is ring fenced, meaning it is secured even if the company gets into financial difficulty. It is not reinvested or in any other way tampered with by Monese.
Limitations of Monese
Although there are many positives to Monese, it makes sense to understand the limitations of the service before signing up.
One of the main drawbacks is that the debit card Is not linked to the bank account in the traditional sense. It works more like a pre-paid Mastercard, meaning it needs to be loaded with cash in order to use it.
There are also some limitations in terms of amounts of money, with no more than £40,000 being allowed in the bank account at any time. Top ups are limited to £500 at the Post Office per day, and £249 per transaction at Paypoint (with a daily limit of £500. Top up via debit card is limited to £1,500 a day or £3,000 per month.
Withdrawals are also limited to a maximum of £300 from an ATM. This is pretty standard with any bank account. Card payments are limited to £4,000 in any one transaction, and £7,000 in any day.
Other considerations when comparing Monese to a standard current account is the fact they are not part of the Current Account Switching Service, therefore you'd have to move all your direct debits and bills over manually. They do not pay interest on your balance, and they are not covered by the FSCS protection guarantee.
Online reviews suggest that some users have had issues with accounts being locked out. Monese have said that this can happen if the account balance becomes negative or a payment was refused. Usually a quick call to their contact centre or live chat facility will resolve the issue.
Monese offers a great option for location independent workers and travellers, as it allows fast and secure access to a UK banking service. The high cost of ATM withdrawals means it makes sense to upgrade from the Starter account, but only if you're going to get enough use from the service to make it worth the relatively high cost of doing so.
For those based in the UK with a stable address and no plans to move, there could be better option, even within the mobile banking sector. More information on online banking is available in our guide.
Overall, Monese is worthy of consideration, but make sure you do your research and consider your needs before switching to any provider. Check our guide on what to consider when choosing a current account for more information.