My mondo card: a week in

15 April 2016

A very blue, very non-bank-like, envelope plopped into my doormat last Thursday. Inside was my very orange prepaid credit card from Mondo. It's topic du jour here on the MetaBroadcast blog, as a few of us have them. I may have told a little white lie to get it: unfortunately they don't yet have an Android app, but I didn't want to wait until they have one to have a play.

initial impressions

Firstly, I'm obviously not that taken by the product itself for my day-to-day banking needs as I don't really have a need for a prepaid credit card. I've got a number of credit cards, and across them all I get more than the benefit of the Mondo card (free foreign transactions etc), without the hassle of having to top up or not having the protections granted under the Consumer Credit Act.

Having said that, the potential once they have a banking license is amazing.

instant gratifnotification

I've not yet experienced first-hand the phone notifying me of a transaction the moment I tap it in a shop—my iPad was a few miles away—but it's great on a few fronts. Firstly, knowing when my card is used will obviously help reduce fraud. Secondly, the number of shop assistants that, infuriatingly, ask whether contactless is ok, then take your card and tap it without actually caring to show you how much you're charged. No longer will I have to just hope they tapped in the right amount; a notification on my phone will show me they have.

Better still, though, is immediate budgeting. Personal finance is hard. If you're able to have up-to-the-minute details about how much you've spent this month, things get a load easier. I've not been using it long enough to see how the historical reporting side of things works, but there's a hint at it on the transaction page:

image here

Transactions are automatically categorised (although there aren't many categories yet), so it should be easy to see where I'm frittering my money. Again, though, this will really only be useful to me if and when all my spending is on a Mondo card, which isn't going to happen while it's a prepaid card.

While the Mondo app seems to have a good set of features itself, the really big win is the API which lets me get at my transactions. Over the years I've done everything from Python scripts to using greasemonkey scripts to scrape web pages from my so-called Internet bank, so I can get transactions into my accounts software. No more. Even better, by using oauth, I can give others access to my transactions as I see fit. This has great potential for proving my creditworthiness to others' (privacy concerns aside). By providing an API, others can develop apps to grab my transactions and help me better manage my finances too. They even have emojis for merchants:

<pre>my transaction</pre>

The good news is that all banks will soon be forced to open your transactions to third parties, through the EU's Payment Services Directive 2. How well banks with older systems will cope remains to be seen. I can't imagine they'll be offering webhooks for transactions.

let it go

A much smaller thing, but one that clearly demonstrates the fact that Mondo are thinking about their users: I can freeze my card if I misplace it. How many times have I actually lost a credit card? None. How many time have I cancelled a credit card because I thought I'd lost my card, only to find it the next day? Countless.

closing title

Up-to-date budgeting could really be a life-changer for people who find it difficult to keep track of personal finances; an at-a-glance look at where they stand, updated the moment they spend something will really help.

The number of banking startups is great. Not only are they not constrained by the legacy of mainframe technologies, which have caused us in the UK no end of problems, by starting from scratch they can really focus on ......

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