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Innovation Is Finally Reaching Banking

Check out how Mondo is making waves in the mobile banking industry.

· Mobile Zone

Visually compose APIs with easy-to-use tooling. Learn how IBM API Connect provides near-universal access to data and services both on-premises and in the cloud, brought to you in partnership with IBM.

We have landed men on the moon. The power of old supercomputers is now available in a device in my pocket. I can get items delivered to me in 2 hours from Amazon. Despite all of this, it can take 5 days for me to transfer money from one account to another.  A transaction doesn't show up on my credit card for 2 days, and even longer if I'm abroad.  I have no way of tracking my spending in real time.


I actually work in finance so I have, to an extent, seen this from the inside. It's upsetting how slowly everything moves. The last 5 years one of the big buzzwords has been "fintech", the idea that smaller, more agile startups were going to come and usurp traditional banks with their speed and willingness to experiment.

Unfortunately, none of this seemed to hit the retail customer.  Customers in the US had services like mint.com, a 3rd party money management app which helped a bit, but that was about it. But finally, something has changed!

My twitter feed was slowly but surely started filling with people talking about Mondo, specifically with their tag line:

The bank of the future @getmondo is coming! Get early access with my link:

This piqued my interest and so I signed up.  And ended up in a queue with 45,000 people (which is now over 60,000).  I patiently waited for a couple of weeks (and managed to accelerate it; you can go forward 4000 people for every person you sign up. Smart!) before getting to the front of the queue and getting my luminous pink Mastercard sent to me.

It's amazing.  Banking has finally hit the modern world!

Everything is done through the slick app.  It's currently just a pre-pay credit card, but you can top it up using Apple Pay or a bank transfer which makes it super simple.  When your register your card, Mondo texts you your pin number.  No more faffing with a separate letter which takes weeks to arrive.  You can cancel your card with one button press in the app if it's lost or stolen.

I'll talk more about the amazing features shortly, but there's one killer thing which is going to get everyone on here excited: there's a Rest API! No longer is your banking data hidden away inside a clunky UI. You can actually write apps and websites that leverage your banking data.  It's read-only (for now) but offers everything you would expect; transaction history, balance inquiry, etc.  

One of the really neat features is the webhooks which allow you to provide a URL to call on every transaction, allowing the creation of real-time push applications.  There are some language integrations available out there but it's very early days (and I'm sure they'd love it if you wanted to write some bindings for them).

You can read the whole thing at the Mondo API reference, and you should be aware that it's in beta currently so expect the API to shift under your feet, but it's still worth a look at and a play.  As expected, it offers a comprehensive authentication API to make it as easy as possible for you to integrate (whilst keeping everyone's money safe).

Every time you use your card you receive a push notification.  I can't tell you how satisfying it is when my phone vibrates to tell me that a transaction has processed.  It happens instantly — no more waiting days to see what's going on.  The app obviously offers me a full transaction history, but for each transaction it has the company logo, the GPS location of the transaction, and it categorizes the transaction.  No more scratching your head trying to figure out what a transaction is.

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You can even break your transactions down by merchant (to realize you're spending most your money on Starbucks) or transaction type (you spend too much on eating out).

One of the really neat features it that the more you use the app, the more features you unlock. Instead of getting search functionality straight away, it becomes unlocked when you have sufficient transactions to make it worth it.  The pulse history graph becomes available after a couple of weeks. It's a lovely touch that makes using the app a pleasure.

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My favorite feature has to be support.  I've spent the last year traveling the world and have had to spend an inordinate amount of time on the phone to my credit card company because they've messed something up.  I was recently overcharged and had a refund put to my card which didn't appear instantly (which is normal, but everything else is instant in Mondo so I was worried).  I sent them a message through the in-app chat, and they told me to send a photo of the receipt and they'd process it instantly.  I did, and then I got a push notification that it had been refunded.  

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I cannot begin to express how far ahead of the rest of the banks in the UK Mondo is.  It's an absolute pleasure to use and I'm genuinely excited to use the card so I can get a handle on my spending habits and hopefully unlock new features.  The future is finally here. I hope this spurs the other banks to get their acts together.  If you want to try out Mondo, click here.

The Mobile Zone is brought to you in partnership with Strongloop and IBM.  Visually compose APIs with easy-to-use tooling. Learn how IBM API Connect provides near-universal access to data and services both on-premises and in the cloud.


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