We asked Tom Blomfield, CEO of Mondo, where he sees the future of Banking.
I’ve recently been reading about artificial intelligence and robotics, and I’m fascinated by that stuff. It embodies exactly what I love about technology, the ability to turn science-fiction into reality. It’s wonderful that people are working on frighteningly ambitious technical problems.
And as humans, it’s strange to consider how quickly we adapt to the new normal. I’ve just been listening to a podcast that was being live-streamed from halfway around the world over the internet, effectively for free. The internet, personal computers, flight, automobiles – the last 150 years of human invention has been genuinely remarkable – and we often take it for granted.
Set against that backdrop, the lack of real innovation in personal banking is pretty depressing. Whereas I used to get my paper bank statement delivered by post, I can now see it on my laptop or my mobile phone. My balance is still generally 2 or 3 days out of date and my card gets blocked every time I travel. The hidden fees & charges that are levied border on criminality.
While other industries are working on self-driving cars and mapping the human genome, my bank has not yet figured out how to tell me exactly how much money I have in my account at any point in time.
There are many reasons that this is still the case, but a primary one is the huge barrier to entry in the form of banking regulation. This has meant the banks have faced almost no new competition, and hence no pressure to improve. That’s changing, at least in the UK, with the launch of companies like Atom, Tandem and Mondo.
We’ll start by giving you an up-to-date view of your balance and recent transactions, and doing away with the hidden fees and charges. But that feels like table-stakes. We need real innovation in this industry over the next 5 or 10 years, delivering the kind of financial service that genuinely improves people’s lives.
The first step in this innovation is already happening – it’s the unbundling of personal finance, with single-purpose providers offering single products at remarkable better prices. Think Transferwise, Zopa, Ratesetter and Funding Circle. I think the next step is a loose re-coupling of these services around centralised platforms, enabled by APIs. Mondo is aiming to be that platform, moving away from the traditional model of banking that’s centred around customer lock-in and cross-selling, towards a “marketplace of banking” where the customer can choose between the most attractive products available.
I think the final step is the introduction of AI to help run our financial lives. We’ll all have computers monitoring our money, making smart investment decisions to optimise for a risk profile that we’ve selected, whilst also looking out for any suspicious activity on our accounts. I’m sure there are a dozen other applications of AI in our personal finances that we can’t even imagine yet. It will be an amazing future that I can’t wait to experience.