Written by Shari R. Pogach, Regulatory Paralegal
Recently immigrated to the United Kingdom and don’t have a bank account? Do you have the following? A passport picture? A selfie? A smartphone? Well, you’re in luck, because with this new start-up company’s app, you can open up a bank account in as little as three (3) minutes with just a passport picture, a selfie and your smartphone.
The community website Business Insider has done a series of posts on the London-based start-up Monese. The company is targeted to newly arrived migrants who don’t yet have a financial footprint in their new location. Monese’s website states “you can open a UK banking account on your mobile in minutes, regardless of your citizenship.” As of October 2015, it had a waiting list of 56,000 applicants.
The company does not hold a banking license; rather it works with banks across Europe that hold a customer’s money. Monese has an e-money license that is issued by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority and allows the company to digitally hold a customer’s money.
Once a customer applies and the application is approved, Monese sends the customer a Visa debit card. The customer can then link that card to the app and use it like any other debit card.
The Monese identity checking platform circumvents the Customer Identification Program (CIP) and “know your customer” regulatory hoops that U.S. financial institutions must follow. But the company insists: “We are members of a number of anti-fraud, anti-money laundering, and counter terrorist data-sharing networks which helps us to play our part in maintaining public safety effectively. We ensure that none of the customers who apply for Monese accounts are on a designated list or have any black marks for criminal activity against their identity.”
How do they do this? By checking a customer’s social networking footprint, using geo-location to perform additional checks and online video verification through Skype interviews. The company states: “The use of online video verification is also used to provide an additional level of verification if all else fails. The video chat which we conduct with customers over Skype is similar to an in-branch account opening experience with a high-street bank, except customers can do it from the comfort of their own house. All in all opening an account with Monese takes under 3 and in that short time we are able to run all of the checks required to feel comfortable that we know the person that has joined our service very well.”
Programming Note: NAFCU will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday and Friday but we’ll be back to blogging on Monday, November 30.
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