Monzo leading the way, but what about business and charity banking?

A good blog post today from Adrian Kennard on Monzo. I, too, have recently got on to the full Monzo current account after having the pre-loaded debit card for a year or so. And it’s impressive. Being a proper current account now, it has a sort code (albeit one which various companies are taking their time to recognise as “real”) and an account number, and it supports BACS and faster payments in and out. These provide a good example of the hidden corners which Monzo doesn’t shy away from implementing, e.g. giving access to the sender’s sort code and account number so you can send money back to anyone who has sent it to you.

So that’s my personal banking all sorted and properly 21st century, though I’ll be waiting for Monzo to implement the current account switching service before I move fully  over. Which just leaves some other pots of money I manage: St Columba’s URC and the Oxon 20s and 30s Walkers. These are banked at CAF Bank and Unity Trust Bank.

There’s nothing really wrong with either of these – both offer bank accounts to charities, the main difference to personal current accounts being the requirement (by law) for multiple signatories to sign each cheque* or approve each outgoing BACS payment. But seeing Monzo pushing the frontiers reminds me of what both CAF and Unity are missing:

  • No apps or mobile websites. Both have rather clunky online banking websites which have to be used on a desktop/laptop. Being able to initiate/approve payments on my phone whilst waiting for a bus would make my life as a volunteer treasurer a lot easier and mean people and suppliers waiting shorter times for their expenses payments.
  • No real-time movement. At CAF, outgoing payments after 4pm don’t leave until 9am the next business day, and don’t always appear instantly at the other end. Incoming BACS payments do seem to appear instantly during business hours, but I’m not sure about the rest of the time.
  • Can’t see into the hidden corners. There’s no visibility of the sender’s account details on incoming payments, which is a pity, as 90% of the people I pay expenses to in both cases have paid us in the past, and it would be neat to be able to send money back to them without having to ask for their account details over an insecure channel such as e-mail or SMS (or a piece of paper).

There are some people (e.g. Starling) who seem to be taking steps in a Monzo-like direction of modernity for business banking, but nobody seems to be doing it for charities. Given that CAF are now charging for their accounts (£5/month), I’d be up for paying £25/month to fund the development of more modern IT and features. But given how little of what I suggested at one of their focus groups a few years back has been implemented, I’m not holding my breath on that.

For the walking club, I could conceivably move to a challenger bank with no way to pay in cash or cheques, but St Columba’s will need some way of paying in the physical contents of the collection plate for a while yet…

*Naturally, there is no longer any such thing as an outgoing cheque for any organisation whose money I run, but we do get the odd incoming cheque still.