What kind of Brit banks with a fintech?

Matt PalframanDirector, Financial Services Research
January 26, 2021, 9:00 PM GMT+0

Data from YouGov Profiles reveals how Revolut, Monzo, and Starling customers think about financial services

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, fintech challenger brands had a rather mixed 2020. While some major players claim to have recorded strong performance in terms of downloads and profitability, others have seen rising losses, introduced new fees, and laid off significant numbers of staff. Between Revolut, Monzo, and Starling, there has even been a touch of bank-on-bank sniping.

Well, 2021 is a new year, and in the spirit of seasonal reconciliation, YouGov Profiles indicates that, for better or worse, these three challengers have a lot in common.

Three in five Revolut customers are men

Britons who bank with all three of these providers are significantly more likely to be men. Of those who said they were a current Revolut customer, three in five (58%) are male. It’s a similar story with Starling Bank, where 58% of customers are men – and to a lesser extent with Monzo (55%) All three brands may therefore benefit from targeting female customers in 2021.

In terms of income, consumers who use these brands are more well-to-do than the average Brit. While 13% of Brits fit into the “higher income” bracket – those who earn over 200% of the median – this rises to a quarter of Revolut (25%), Monzo (26%) and Starling Bank (25%) customers.

Fewer than two in ten Brits who bank with Monzo (15%), Revolut (20%), and Starling (19%) have a lower income (less than 75% of the median) compared to three in ten (29%) members of the wider public. While the former and latter in particular have emphasised financial inclusion and eliminating barriers to banking, all three brands appear to largely appeal to more well-off consumers.

Each of the three providers has a significantly younger audience: 64% of Monzo, 55% of Starling, and 48% of Revolut customers are aged 18-34. The latter two brands perform much better among over-55s (12% Revolut; 11% Starling; 5% Monzo).

Starling customers are less cynical – but prefer to have multiple bank accounts

Examining the attitudes of these consumers reveals shared beliefs – but also stark differences.

For example, while over a third of Brits (35%) believe that financial institutions try to “trick people out of their money”, this rises to 46% of Revolut customers and 40% of those who bank with Monzo. Contrastingly, Starling’s users are less likely to think that banks are out to swindle customers than even the general public (32% v 35%). This may be partially to do with the fact that Starling calls itself a bank – while the others have been less keen to embrace this label (Revolut, in fact, does not currently hold a UK banking licence).

Monzo and Starling customers are also less likely to affirm that “all banks are the same” than Revolut customers (65% Monzo; 59% Starling; 75% Revolut) – which perhaps makes them less cynical than even the general public (72% of whom agree with the statement).

All three groups demonstrated a rather polyamorous approach to financial services. While half (49%) of Brits prefer to have multiple bank accounts, this increases to two-thirds of Revolut (67%) and Monzo (65%) customers – and four-fifths (81%) of Starling customers. In the latter’s case, this may be due to its greater emphasis on business banking.

Nevertheless, our data shows that just 11% of Starling users say it’s their main bank account – they’re just as likely to be Nationwide customers (12%). Monzo performs a little better (16%) but consumers who use it as a primary account are still a clear minority.

These brands have succeeded in appealing to Brits that may want to better organise their day-to-day spending. Over half of Revolut (55%), Monzo (55%), and Starling (51%) customers claim to make impulsive purchases compared to two-fifths (40%) of the wider public. Over two in five say they move their money around different accounts to trick themselves into spending less (43% Revolut; 43% Starling; 45% Monzo; 22% nat rep).

But fintech brands don’t just want to offer spending and savings pots: they want to be the banks that customers pay their salaries into and their mortgages from. It was a key challenge for them last year, and it’s likely to remain so in 2021 as each brand attempts to attract a more diverse customer base – one less dominated by younger, well-off, and male consumers – and convince them to fully commit to their services.

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