When a 16 or 17 year old signs up with Monzo, they get sent a contactless debit card, the same as every other Monzo current account, an account number and sort-code and access to the Monzo app on iOS and Android.
An account registered by a 16 or 17 year old will only be eligible for an overdraft once the account holder turns 18, and the money in the account cannot be spent on gambling websites. Monzo does note that other age restricted items -- alcohol and cigarettes, for example -- have not been blocked because that would mean prohibiting purchases at supermarkets or restaurants for legitimate items such as lunch. In these cases, it is the shop or establishment's responsibility to make sure they are not selling age-restricted items to someone under 18.
Although these accounts won't have planned overdrafts, they might still go overdrawn. In this case, Monzo says it will not charge its teenage users for spending more than they've got, but it will ask them to pay it back.
Monzo's hot coral cards are a recognizable sight in London. (Image: Monzo)
A cynical person would say this is Monzo making an attempt to capture users while they're young, as Monzo knows young users will value features such as mobile banking and contactless payments using the debit card, or payments through Apple or Google Pay. However, another way of looking at it is Monzo is attempting to teach the next generation about money as early as possible, so they are prepared when they leave home for university or get a job and need to pay rent or bills. (See Monzo: The Future of Banking?)
Monzo's stated mission is making money work for everyone, and changing attitudes to money. If it can introduce users to these concepts while they're young, the company will hope that it can change the generational attitudes to money and how we spend and save it, reversing the trend of millennials not saving money or not knowing how.