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Fintechs struggle to monetise digital banking services

For most industries, the most difficult obstacle to overcome is getting the customer to pay you. This is particularly true for “neobanks” ike Starling, Revolut and Monzo. Despite millions of users and a reputation of providing smooth user-experiences, most UK consumers are unwilling to pay for fintech apps.


This comes after Monzo, the London-based company, “doubledown” with its premium £5-a-month service, Monzo Plus. Potential investors could look at Monzo’s competition for an indication of potential success.


Of Revolut’s entire consumer-base, roughly 5% pay to use the app’s services. Whilst German fintech N26 has pulled out of the UK market, stating that they’re less welcoming of its £14.90 a month premium service.


What Monzo, and many over fintech brands, attempt to sell, is increased visibility and financial control. The modest numbers reflect UK consumers’ motivations when it comes to fintech; ready to use, hesitant to pay. Aforementioned failures have left tech buyers in doubt of whether fintech product subscriptions to a mass market will ever be profitable.


Monese is a company that bucks the trend, with 46% of UK users paying for the app’s premium service. The brand’s target user, however, is much more niche, and its banking-lite offering and various perks do not represent the purchasing motivations of the “mass market”.


Fintech commentators believe that may be the fate of Monzo Plus, and other premium offerings; niche audiences made up of existing brand advocates. The majority are not brand loyal, and if charges are proposed, consumers just move on to the next digital banking app.


One individual fintech is yet to emerge as the “Spotify of banking”, and while brands have the value for money of their fees questioned, the next steps for fintech brands remains unclear.


What is clear, however, is what might get the masses onboard with neobanks. Exclusive discounts and opportunities to boost credit scores, for example, are daily money problems that people face every day, and features addressing these are what experts see as the key to profits.


For those with an eye on fintechs, doubt is the overriding emotion when a brand attempts to monetise their app. This lack of enthusiasm paints a blurry picture for the future of neobanks in the UK and we may well see traditional banks catch up with the UX revolution to leave neos without a USP and a business plan…

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