MONNEO: ONE PLATFORM, MULTIPLE BANKS

Interview with Lili Metodieva, by Startups MagazineLanna Deamer

Startups Magazine speaks to Lilia Metodieva, Managing Director of Monneo, European fintech startup. 

Lilia Metodieva, Managing Director of Monneo
Lilia Metodieva,
Managing Director of Monneo

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR STARTUP AND WHAT YOU DO?

Monneo is incorporated in the UK and is an authorised payment institution licensed by the FCA. We have headquarters in London, UK and offices in Prague, Czech Republic. We offer international payments in 134 different currencies.

Monneo connects thousands of online merchants to a network of EU and international banks to provide virtual IBANs (International Bank Account Numbers) and banking services. Merchants from all industries (which are legal and supported by Visa and MasterCard) can apply for multiple dedicated IBANs and corporate Visa card without the need for a separate agreement with each bank.

Merchants can receive settlements from their acquiring banks and payment service providers to those IBANs and send out payments to maintain their day-to-day business operations. This simplifies administration processes for businesses and provides enhanced connectivity to a well-established banking network.

WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?

‘Open Banking’ is a relatively new directive that means the biggest banks have to release their data to be shared more easily between authorised organisations online. It had been talked about for a number of years, before it came into force in January 2018, and it presented a huge opportunity to improve European banking for many businesses via new Fintech initiatives.

In ‘Open banking’ the client needs to ‘bring’ their banks to connect to a platform. Monneo upgraded this idea where we provide various banking options already connected to the Monneo platform on behalf of the client.

The Founder of Monneo, Avi Veenstra, and I have both worked in the payments and merchant services industry for many years and we both felt there was still something missing from the propositions available to eCommerce merchants and banking has always been an inseparable part of the merchant payment ecosystem.

With that, the concept of Monneo was born combining experience from the traditional acquiring/payments world and creating something new in the digital banking sector that provides a new level of connectivity.

We are happy to say that we are already ensuring that doing business is easier for thousands of organisations across Europe.

WHAT TECHNOLOGY IS INVOLVED?

We connect our customers to multiple banks through a single proprietary interface. Through this interface merchants can access virtual IBANs in their company’s name provided through a network of leading European banks that support incoming and outgoing international payments.

The Monneo solution has two main aspects: Virtual IBAN and card issuing. With the Virtual IBAN Monneo enables merchants to send and receive international B2B payments.

The dedicated Virtual IBAN accounts are issued via a network of reputable EU and International banking partners operating through Monneo’s single banking interface. The card issuing aspect allows merchants to attach corporate contactless Visa debit card(s) to the total balance of multiple Virtual accounts held via our multiple banking partners.

Online businesses can monitor payments made online and at point of sale in real time via our secure online banking interface.

WHAT IS THE MAIN GOAL?

The main goal is to create a solution which addresses all challenges eCommerce merchants are facing with their banking operations and to provide risk mitigation for their banking solutions.

WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?

Monneo serves those who otherwise may have been discounted by traditional financial service providers. We are the only Fintech that has created a network such as ours between businesses and banks across the UK and Europe. This is very specific to our sector, but to highlight in detail:

WHAT HAS YOUR FUNDING JOURNEY BEEN LIKE SO FAR?

So far, we have been self-funded, so we haven’t been through the usual raises of funding stages that are now typical for new businesses in Fintech.

I would say this has been an advantage as we have been able to focus all our efforts on the solution and our customers, rather than into various funding rounds and investor relations.

WHAT HAVE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES BEEN SO FAR?

Like for most businesses, COVID-19 changed things in regard to the way we meet new clients. The traditional offline trade shows have been cancelled and for us this was one of the main client acquisition channels, so we had to adapt to the new reality quite quickly.

HOW HAS YOUR BUSINESS MANAGED OR ADAPTED DURING COVID?​

Fortunately, the business has been growing as consumers switched to online purchases, which allowed our clients (the online merchants) to grow their businesses. This was reflected in the growth of our business.

We had to switch to new marketing and sales channels and have used the time to automate most of the internal processes, adding new banks to our network and offer more payment options to our clients. COVID-19 has created many challenges, but it also brought a lot of opportunities.

WHAT SORT OF EFFECTS HAS THE PANDEMIC HAD ON YOUR INDUSTRY?

The pandemic has been challenging, of course, however it has also been a real catalyst for many online industries. This, in turn, has meant more online payments and financial transactions taking place. For many, in the Fintech industry this has meant growth and an opportunity to play an even greater role in the future and recovery of many businesses.

It will be interesting to see how things develop as we all adapt to a different kind of normal in the coming years.

DOES YOUR STARTUP CURRENTLY USE A WORKSPACE?

Yes, we do have a workplace and we have continued using it when we have been allowed. For us the interaction between employees is very important and when told the team that everyone was able to work from home if they wanted to, they still kept on coming to the office.

WHAT CRITERIA DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A WORKSPACE?

It has to provide enough space for everyone to have a lot of light and comfort to the people as the environment affects the way people do their jobs.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE?

We have invested a lot of our early energies into building the solution and the network that can really deliver on the promise we make to our customers.

Now we are continuing to focus developing our proposition, entering new markets, gaining financial licenses in more territories across Europe and launching new products, such as our corporate Visa debit card in partnership with Railsbank.

I am also excited to say we are relaunching the Monneo brand in May, which will include a new logo, marketing collaterals and website… so, lots to look from us in 2021. We will be adding more banks to our network.

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