Startup Focus: Monneo

Date: 23 November 2021
Author: FINTECH Circle

Monneo is an FCA regulated payment institution which connects online merchants to a network of EU and international banks. We spoke to their Managing Director Lili Metodieva, to find out how they’re changing the future of the industry and what she has learnt on her  journey so far.

How would you describe your business in one sentence?

Monneo is an FCA regulated payment institution which connects online merchants to a network of EU and international banks, to provide virtual IBAN accounts and digital banking services, and is built around the open banking concept with the difference that Monneo also provides the IBAN accounts

Tell us why your company is a game changer for our industry?

Monneo, although based on Open Banking, is a far superior solution. Not only does it deliver advanced technology and connectivity, Monneo also provides dedicated virtual IBANs at different banks under a single agreement and application process, so clients do not need to laboriously apply to each bank for an account.

The concept of Monneo was born by combining experience from the traditional acquiring/payments/ ecommerce world and creating something new in the digital banking sector. The goal was to create a new payments solution for eCommerce merchants in terms of banking, which has always been an inseparable part of the merchant payment ecosystem.

Monneo serves those who otherwise may have had challenges opening IBAN accounts at traditional banks because of the bank’s lack of understanding about ecommerce and we are happy to say that we are already ensuring that business is easier for thousands of organisations across Europe.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Monneo has created a network between businesses and banks across the UK, Europe and internationally. Our key achievements include:

  • Creating a network of nine banks (and three more to be integrated bythe end of this year) to ensure risk mitigation of banking solutions for our clients.
  • Monneo’s Corporate Visa debit card, which allows eCommerce merchants to access the combined balance of all their IBANs at various banks through one card.
  • Merchant settlement distribution service for acquirers which enables acquires to distribute settlement funds to merchants from various verticals shortening settlement time-frames.
  • Crypto B2B invoice payments
  • Monneo enables clients invoices to be paid in crypto
  • Joining the Accept My IBAN, the coalition of European businesses in the fight against the illegal practice of IBAN discrimination, earlier this year.

And finally, for being recognised for our innovation within the sector by our peers and being shortlisted for three categories at The Payment Awards 2021:

  • Payment Technology Provider of the Year
  • Best Cross-Border Payments Infrastructure
  • B2B Payments Innovation of the Year

What has been the greatest challenge leading a start-up so far?

Leading a start-up is rewarding, but always comes with its challenges.  This year we went through an extensive rebrand after feeling that the existing branding wasn’t showcasing the progress the company had made. The rebrand was comprehensive and even though we had planned as much as possible from the start, every step of the process brought up more and more things to improve. Looking back, it was like an iceberg where we were only able to see part of what we had to achieve.

The rebrand started with the name, moving from its undisclosed former name, which was a regular corporate name and didn’t speak about services in a proper way. The team chose Monneo, meaning new money, which aligned with the goal of embodying innovation.

The rebrand really illustrated the saying ‘trust the process’ and the Monneo team have been rewarded with the new branding.

As well as internal challenges, we also faced external challenges, which were represented through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Traditional trade shows are where we tend to meet new business, and they are one of the main client acquisition channels for Monneo. Over the past 18 months, due to the impact of Covid-19, it has not been possible to interact in this way. With restricted international travel and trade shows being cancelled, or moving to online, we had to adapt to the new reality quite quickly.

Fortunately, trades shows and conferences are now back to offline. It’s great to be able to participating and have the opportunity to sponsor again!

What’s your typical day like?

  • Like every working mother – waking up quite early, around 6 AM preparing breakfast, doing the school run and in between checking emails and messages and making phone calls.
  • I then head to the gym for a workout and some headspace to allow me to get set me up for the day ahead
  • I tend to be back at my desk for 9am so I can start working – answering emails, chatting on calls and leading meetings.
  • The workday ends at around 6.30 – 7 PM, when I like to cook and spend time with my family
  • After dinner (and kids bedtime) I’ll catch up on messages and emails
  • And before bed, I like to catch up with partners and customers in the North America time zone

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your fundraising journey?

So far, Monneo is entirely 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.

Your advice to anyone starting out as an entrepreneur?

To dream big, not to be afraid to fail and to understand that there might be a few failures before success starts to happen. ‘Trust the process’ and keep pushing through the challenges to reap the rewards.

Lili Metodieva is Managing Director at Monneo. Lili gained her master’s degree in Commerce & has been active in the eCommerce industry since 2006, with experience in operations management of card acquirers & knowledge about VISA, Mastercard & CUP regulations, compliance, online payments, risk management & marketing. Lili also speaks about being a woman in a senior leadership role and using this position to encourage & mentor female leaders in the Fintech industry.

You can connect with Lili on LinkedIn.