We launched very, very, very early. Like, scary early.

We launched very, very, very early. Like, scary early.

Those were the words from Tom Bloomfield - founder of British Neo Bank Monzo.

You don't usually hear those words from the founder and CEO of a bank. However, Monzo was part of a new wave of challenger banks leading the charge with consumer-based financial tech.

If you had asked me 'how could I create an MVP for a bank?' I would have honestly said "you can't" until I witnessed how Monzo pulled it off.

Let's get straight to it 👇

Instead of waiting for their banking license, building their card processing stack Monzo instead bought some prepaid cards, piggybacked on another bank’s license and card processor. This allowed them to get their MVP in the hands of users potentially years earlier than it would if they went down the traditional route.

Then starting in 2015 they created the first version of their mobile app which basically allowed you to see your live transaction history and began testing it internally with their 12 employees at the time.

Later that week, armed with the 100 Alpha pre-paid cards they hosted a hackathon and gave out a bunch of cards to attendees and asked them to test it with one caveat - “they probably won’t work”.

And to some extent they were right. Users were reporting they could make unlimited contactless transactions without having credit loaded on the pre-paid card. So they reported this bug and the team fixed it. And they continued this process. Infact. Monzo had initially anticipated the pre-paid cards phase working for around 2,000 beta users - but remarkably they ended up taking on half a million users with their pre-paid cards before becoming a real bank.

By building a simple and lean MVP and learning at the earliest stages, they avoided what could have been a costly and potentially a feature-rich failure. Better to fail fast and readjust, than to learn the same lesson after spending a ton of time and money.

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