Digging Deeper with Monitise: Driving Banks Worldwide into “Mobile First” Money Solutions

May 5, 2014         By: Andrew Barnes

Andrew Barnes’ series, “Digging Deeper” is based in Silicon Valley and focuses on key innovators and startups, and how they are disrupting digital payments and commerce. 


While many companies TALK about enabling mobile transactions, the company Monitise has clearly figured out how to do it.  Working with over 350 financial institutions and 28 million users, they deliver mobile banking, payments, and commerce networks worldwide.  The company handles 3.4 billion transactions on an annualized basis, with the value of payments and transfers worth $71bn.

So what’s the deal, and why should payment professionals take note?  Andrew sat down with Lisa Stanton, President of the Americas at Monitise for some straight talk about the differences in U.S. and Asia markets, developing new domestic commerce networks, and building out partnerships with huge financial players.


Andrew Barnes: Hi Lisa, great to sit down with you today here in San Francisco.  Thanks for your time. Let’s jump into it. Monitise deploys worldwide. Can you talk about use case differences in Asia Pacfic, for instance, and the U.S.?

Lisa Stanton: Great to sit down with you as well, Andrew. That’s a great question, because the original business plan drawn up by our co-founder Alastair Lukies ten years ago was to build the Monitise offering once, and then deploy it in as many places as possible, because banking is universally similar around the world.

The reality is that every market has so many needs.  While we’ve got the core infrastructure for that: every solution generally needs security, reporting and customer service, all built in at the foundation of the solution.  Everything on top of it, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, needs to be customized by region.

So you asked about Asia/Pacific.  We’ve some interesting things going on in the region. It’s more about payments than it is about banking. Most of the banks have done something in the banking space, and now the mobile payments movement is really hot.


Can you give some examples of deployments in Asia?

One example would be what we’ve done in Indonesia building on top of the core ATM infrastructure there, and, as you know, ATM compatibility is standard around the world. You can take your ATM or Debit card issued by Wells Fargo and get off the plane in Indonesia and use it with your PIN. So that infrastructure has been a great foundation for us to come up with some innovative solutions.

What we’ve rolled out in Indonesia is a P2P solution using BlackBerry Messenger. The concept uses social networks and transitions them into a multi-faceted payments network. The service allows anybody in your BBM list to receive or send money to or from you, using that ATM infrastructure as money in, cash out.

Pretty creative. And, importantly, BlackBerry is still a dominant brand and device in Indonesia. The country has a heavy smart phone penetration, and greater than half are BlackBerrys. I think that is because the messaging services don’t require data. So if you’re a kid with a BlackBerry you can chat to your friends all day long. So we’ve innovated on top of it and delivered a solution that works with your social networks.


Pretty creative and adaptive to the local market.  How about the other big economy in the region, India?

In India, we just launched a service with Visa, who is a partner of ours, and an investor. Together, we launched a service called Movida, which is offered by the banks there to help customers pay and buy with a mobile phone. Two of the three biggest banks in India recently launched with us..

If you think about India, there are billions of people using mobile, but there is little card acceptance for services or in stores. So the majority of the banked population in India probably has a Visa or MasterCard, but it’s probably in a drawer because there is nobody accepting it. A lot of merchants don’t accept card payments, so we’ve turned that into a positive and tried to help people register that card and use the secure payments rails and infrastructure. You can do bill payment, mobile phone top up, ticketing, and you’ll even be able to choose the seat inside of the theater that you want when you buy your movie ticket, all from a mobile device.

So Movida is all about payments and convenience for a bank population that can’t be reliant on cards. It’s the same infrastructure but it’s a new innovation on top of it.


It sounds like you’re enabling your clients, the banks, to get into areas of payments and m-commerce in order to stay top-of-mind.   

Yes, we’re helping them stay relevant. Despite what you may think about the financial sector, consumers still trust their bank more than anybody.

They also expect to make payments from their bank. Between the card, bank account, or checking account, they’re all part of the banking relationship. So anything we can do around the edges to create new capabilities and provide new revenue opportunities to banks will probably encourage consumers to adopt more than they would say from Apple or Facebook.


How about the intersection of mobility and financial services for the unserved and unbanked in developing markets.  Are you engaged in this area? 

Absolutely. There are six to seven billion mobile devices in the world, but only two and a half billion banked consumers in the world, so there is a huge number of potential bank consumers underserved or underwhelmed , who are just not getting into the established, regulated systems.

We definitely think mobile is a way to build inclusivity for those consumers without having to build a physical infrastructure that will probably never happen in some of the more remote areas.


Your relationship with Visa is well known in the industry. How is it going?

It’s been a great relationship. As I mentioned, it’s a multi-faceted partnership, and they also have a sear on our board. In fact we have Visa Inc. and Visa Europe on the board, so we’re humbled by the attention.

The former President of Visa Europe is our Chairman of the board right now, and they continue to be a great partner. They challenge us in terms of the things that we can do, and in terms of the whole partnership, it’s about finding ways to add value to the assets that they already have.


Much of the talk in fintech circles is about ‘the rails’ and developing new commerce networks.  How do you see commerce networks evolving?

Yes, that’s the Holy Grail, isn’t it? Everybody talks about how their company is going to be the wallet of the commerce craze. We think it’s a huge opportunity for financial institutions, and the rest of the players. At the end of the day, it’s really about eyeballs and how many consumers are on the platform, and how good the content is.

A lot of people build great content and hope they can get people to come use it. We have gone the opposite way, joining with banks to help them do what they do in terms of day-to-day banking, and do it well on the mobile device as a way to bring in customers. We’ve got tens of millions of users in this database we’re building, and they interact with their bank 27 times a month on average through the mobile channel. So basically everyday, people are visiting their digital bank, and this is something we are monetizing – not just for us but for our customers as well.

Traffic pulls content, and the more traffic we build, the better opportunity we have to add value in revenue producing ways, like offers, gift cards and commerce.


Can you give me an example?

A good example is U.S. Bank. They’ve announced a project with us called Peri, which links ads in print, on TV or on the radio directly to products advertised on a company’s website.

We love a lot of things about U.S. Bank, but one of their key attributes is that they have a huge bank on one side with retail customers, and they have this merchant-acquiring business on the other side where they have direct relationships with big merchants. U.S. Bank is bringing those two sides together to deliver a value-added service.

As mobile technology accelerates the convergence between the offline and digital worlds of banking, payments and commerce, banks are identifying new revenue streams and driving value for both retailers and consumers.


And you’re doing some of that data and analytics work internally in Monitise – is that a good growth area for you?

It is certainly a growing thing. We’ve always known that the database was our most important asset, but it’s really about how willing our partners are to work with us. It’s all their data, and that will never be ours. We’re just helping them form the analytics structure to make it work on in the digital environment.


Let me take a step back to make sure I’m clear. How do you define ‘commerce network’?  

Yes, it’s a great question. It’s almost as hard to define mobile wallet. All of these words go round and nobody quite knows what you’re talking about. You’re going to ask me to define wallet now aren’t you?


You are off the hook on that one….

In our mind, the commerce network is an aggregation of all of the key players in the space. We are the enabler in the middle, aggregating all of that content around the edges to add value to all the needs of the parties. So whether you’re contributing user content, value or unique ways to transact, we’re underneath all that, pushing it back up in a way that’s usable.


And all of the parties will have their own distinct identities?

Exactly right. They will be very specialized for each specific party in the ecosystem as well. Some merchants want to be exposed to everybody in America, and some will want to just be exposed to the customers in Wisconsin. There are so many distinct parameters that we have to make sure we’re able to be totally configurable, but at the end of the day, it will be very unique. We will just be the powering engine underneath.


Do you work with startups?

We sure do. We keep an eye on them. Some are so interesting to us in fact that they have been part of acquisitions we’ve brought in over the past couple of years. Others we partner with and connect to if they’ve got an interesting capability that we haven’t built yet. If somebody has a unique product or user base, and we believe it will add value to the overall ecosystem, we want to work together.


Thanks Lisa, this has been great.

You are very welcome Andrew. Great to see you.

About Monitise

Monitise is a world leading technology and services company that delivers mobile banking, payments, and commerce networks. Monitise works with more than 350 financial institutions including U.S. Bank, HSBC, FIS, Telefonica, Lloyd’s Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland, with more than 28 million users globally. The company processes 3.4 billion transactions per year, and the value of payments and transfers initiated by its technology platform is more than $70 billion.

Lisa Stanton, President of Americas at Monitise

Lisa Stanton joined Monitise in 2007 and is responsible for the company’s business in the Americas, including both the Group’s partnership with Visa Inc. and direct sales. Lisa is focused on progressing relationships with current and future clients as well as growing the Company’s leadership position in mobile payments and commerce innovation. Prior to joining Monitise, Lisa spent 16 years in various leadership roles with Citizens Financial Group (the US Division of RBS), most recently managing the payments and ATM businesses.

barnesAndrew Barnes, Managing Director, Emerging Payments

Barnes is a self-confessed payments “geek” and recognized entrepreneur-intrapreneur working in Silicon Valley. He leverages his business development track record and network in tech, startups, retail, and FI’s to profile opportunities and solve challenging revenue problems in payments and mobile commerce. Barnes has held executive positions internationally with Sprint, Global One, and 2Roam Mobile. He founded the National NNN Investment Group and is an Advisor to the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA). Barnes has an MBA from Waseda in Tokyo 早稲田大学大学院 and a BA from Penn State.  He can be reached at @AndrewinSV and Linkedin