Monzo just failed – way better than your old bank ever could

By Oliver Smith 6 March 2017
image: istock/RapidEye

Challenger banks came out smelling of roses.

Over 120,000 people faced the ultimate embarrassment this weekend, getting to the checkout only to have their cards declined.

Or they would have, if smart challenger banks like Monzo hadn’t sent messages to their customers giving them a heads up before they left the house.

And Monzo wasn’t the only one with issues.

Broken banking

Monzo, Revolut, Curve, Starling Bank, LootPockit and Uaccount, some of Britain’s best-known challenger brands, were affected by a technical hiccup on Sunday, which left many customers unable to use their cards.

The Memo understands the technical hiccup may have come from a third-party payments company – which is believed to be Dubai-based finance group Global Processing Services.

Read more: Monzo wants its customers to invest

But rather than failing quietly and hoping no one noticed, the challengers showed exactly what differentiates them from the big banks.

In Monzo’s case it sent an update to every user’s app at 10.17am on Sunday morning, followed by a push notification to every customer’s smartphone, and hourly status updates for those following the problem.

Technical problems, especially for such young businesses, are maybe not a surprise. Only two weeks ago banking giant Barclays suffered a similar outage.

But unlike Monzo, which showed a shining example of how to deal with problems with its regular status updates directly to customers, Barclays merely tweeted to its 20,000 twitter followers that it was having problems… probably hoping that no one noticed.


Yesterday’s ordeal could also be bad news for their partner, Global Processing Services.

After the outage Monzo said it “will not use a third-party card processor” in the future.

Curve also said it will “increase resources” in building “a ‘stand-in process’, which would allow for your transactions to be approved under similar extreme circumstances.”

The Memo has contacted Global Processing Services for comment on the outage.

No customer ever wants their bank card to stop working. But this experience has shown just how differently challenger banks are thinking about their customers, by setting new standards and keeping the big banks on their toes.