Monzo and Starling are banks you’ve probably never heard of if you’re outside the UK, but they’ve been leading a quiet revolution to challenge traditional banks to do better — and it’s been working. Both banks live on your phone through apps on iOS and Android, with no brick-and-mortar locations or clerks at desks. Instead, at Monzo’s headquarters in London, employees’ dogs commingle with engineers, support staff, and other workers in the buzz of a startup environment you’d typically find in Silicon Valley.Mobile-only banks are a totally new approach to banking in the UK, with the ability to see real-time transactions as they happen, easily split bills with friends, and use cards overseas with no fees. All of these features, and more, have led millions in Britain to now trust Monzo and Starling with their hard-earned cash. With just word-of-mouth and very little advertising, these two banks are showing bigger British banks — and the US — how 21st century banking is really done.Both Starling and Monzo offer very similar cards and bank accounts that are quickly becoming popular with millennials across the UK — Monzo recently crossed 2 million customers and says it’s adding 200,000 more each month, and Starling has more than 550,000 customers. You can easily track your spending habits in their mobile apps and instantly see when a payment occurs via mobile notifications. Most other banks in the UK take days to process card payments, so you never truly know what your actual bank balance is. Monzo’s and Starling’s apps are both in real time, so you know whether you can make that big purchase or not. The apps are also very well designed and easy to use, unlike many of the cumbersome apps that have been built by big banks. continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
But Nahles warned the industry to be careful.“It is very easy to talk down a proposal no one else dared to make,” she said. “But you have to be careful when you then don’t have anything to show for it.”The minister said the “constructive” criticism offered up by unions and industry associations was very welcome, and sought to show BMAS was listening by highlighting three areas where changes to the initial proposals were possible.She said BMAS understood that insisting only Pensionskassen or Pensionsfonds should be allowed to act as industry-wide vehicles could be too restrictive.Instead, either type of pension fund or an insurer could be sub-contracted to offer retirement benefits, with the standalone organisation awarding the contract.Nahles said such an approach would have the benefit of keeping costs low and noted that MetallRente operated on a similar basis.The idea that workers not covered by collective labour agreements, or Tarifverträge, could see themselves benefit from the reform may also be dropped, after it met with resistance from a number of sources, including unions.The final point where BMAS could envisage change, Nahles said, is in the area of benefit protection.The initial proposal suggested that, as the new industry-wide schemes would no longer be directly backed by employers, at least a measure of protection could be offered through the German lifeboat fund, the Pensions-Sicherungs-Verein (PSV).Instead of insisting on protection of benefits by PSV, Nahles said benefits could be insured by Protektor, the country’s scheme of last resort for life insurers set up by the industry in 2002.As her comments drew laughter, the minister added that if social partners baulked at the idea of using Protekor, it was up to them to propose alternative arrangements.“Why should there not also be competition between the lifeboat systems?” she asked, once again stressing that BMAS was open to what role PSV would play.“If other mechanisms that offer a comparable level of protection are possible, then we are happy to evaluate these.”For more on the §17b proposals, click here Critics of Germany’s proposed new industry-wide pension funds should offer constructive feedback rather than talk down the government’s work, the country’s minister for Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) has insisted.Speaking at the annual conference for German pension fund association aba, Andrea Nahles defended BMAS proposals to increase occupational pensions coverage by tweaking tariff agreements and allowing social partners to establish industry-wide, defined contribution (DC) funds.She said she had received a lot of feedback after the draft proposal – dubbed §17b – was released and joked that some of it had even been supportive of the reforms.The reform proposals were initially greeted by heavy criticism from the industry, with one legal expert warning that the idea only Pensionskassen or Pensionsfonds would be eligible vehicles was anti-competitive.