Cool content: Monzo’s frozen cards

There’s a very specific word that product people in the tech world tend to use a lot. Delightful. “Make user experiences delightful.” Cool word. Sounds nice. Who wouldn’t want that? Well, putting aside the people who I’m sure ask “what’s the exchange rate these days between delight and revenue?”, there seems to be — in hindsight — one industry that’s historically not focused as much on delightful product experiences as the average modern SaaS company.

Banking.

Perhaps it’s just my personal experience. But I don’t recall ever being wowed by my consumer banking experience. Until I got onto Monzo. Now, I’ve been a Monzo user for a little while now, so simply playing around in the app doesn’t wow me anymore. But something happened the other day — something I’d never before experienced in the app — which gave me that “hey, that’s pretty cool” feeling once again.

My card got frozen.

I was making a contactless payment, which failed. The card machine told me to insert or swipe. Since I don’t live in the same year the Scooby Doo movie came out — or the US — I chose to insert. Machine wasn’t having that. It told me to swipe. So I did. Guess what happened next?

If you picked “failed again”, you’d be correct. Not to worry, the shopkeeper keyed in the transaction again and we tried inserting once more. Declined. As someone who deliberately doesn’t have notifications enabled for Monzo, I had no idea what was going on without pulling out my phone and jumping into the app, so I decided to throw down an alternative card, which worked fine with contactless first try.

My Monzo app feed

As I walked out of the shop, I checked my phone and was utterly bewildered to see that my card was frozen. So I tapped the entry in the feed and was met with this.

What I saw when I tapped into the feed entry

If you think it’s weird that my reaction to this screen was to grin — you’d be right. But the content part of my brain saw this screen and thought two things:

  1. “Wow, oh my god, this is so clear and helpful.”
  2. “Legacy banks never would have done this.”

And when it came to fixing the problem?

My icy little Monzo card, sitting at the top of my app’s feed

One simple button. Dead easy.

How’s Monzo being delightful here?

  • Clear messaging in the main app screen — I instantly see what’s happened as soon as I opened the app
  • More info in one tap — I can learn why it happened, and in plain English
  • Quick, easy solution — I fixed it all in an instant
  • Visual details to reinforce the message — the frost over the card is the cherry on this sundae

Good looks like this.

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Brad Ewin

Brad Ewin

Hi! 👋 I’m a Content Lead at a London-based fintech company, as well as a creator of miscellaneous things.