Friday, 18 March 2016

Mondo gets the public Beta blues

Who’d be a challenger bank, eh? Getting that cool digital offering to market is a long and winding road with many a treacherous turn as mobile-only newcomer Mondo has been finding out. Earlier this month, it was forced to reboot a crowdfunding initiative after an initial demand for participation overwhelmed Crowdcube’s servers.

And now the startup (tagline: Finally, a bank as smart as your phone) has been experiencing teething problems following the launch of a public Beta, inviting iPhone users across the UK to download its app from the App Store.

Those who get to the top 1,000 of its waiting list by this weekend will receive a Mondo card (its MasterCard prepaid debit card) early next week. After that, the bank says it will continue to send out a thousand cards every week.

The launch follows a £6 million funding round and comes 136 days after a London-based Alpha preview, which saw 3,000 users test the app, give feedback and spend more than £1.5 million. Mondo customers can now send instant P2P payments (secured by Touch ID) to other customers, using just their phone number.

Authentication issues, however, were to the fore yesterday. After receiving an email to join the public Beta, I installed the iPhone app, only to be told that my login details were incorrect. And I wasn’t the only one; people flocked to social media to vent spleen (sample tweet: ‘Really unimpressed today @getmondo If I were a normal customer I’d be fed up and dropped this #challengerbank silliness’). Upon finding out that the issue had been fixed, I reopened the app, to find the following message: ‘Demand for Mondo has been incredible and we’re producing cards as fast as we can. There are 11,996 people ahead of you. And 44,584 behind.’

For those who managed to get through the doors, the Beta will still only provide a glimpse of what’s on offer. In a blog post, the company says: “Many of the same caveats still apply to the Mondo Beta as they did to the Alpha, although we have made some huge improvements over the last few months. It’s important to note that you won’t yet have access to ‘full banking’ features like Direct Debits or Faster Payments.”

The new entrant says that these features will be available when it gains a banking license later this year. An Android app is also in the works, with Mondo looking to enlist Android developers to help with the implementation.

In the meantime, I’ve just checked the app again and there are now 11,796 people ahead of me. At this rate, it will be 2020 when I finally get to the mobile promised land. Harumph. Grrrrr. And so on.

Senior Editor
IBS Journal

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