Starting Monshare was one of the most uncomfortable things I ever had to do. It is not the ‘perks’ of being a first-time entrepreneur that made it that uncomfortable. Of course, the prospect of constrained finances, impossible choices and never doing one thing right again were terrifying. But… trying to solve the problem that ‘does not exist’ was much more dreading.
Growing up, in my immediate circle, there was no conversation about ‘who paid what’. At each stage of a committed romantic relationship, everything was implied and understood without any money problems whatsoever.
In the early stage of a relationship, men would be expected to pay for dates. Closer to the wedding the bride’s family was likely to pick up most of the wedding bill. Once married, all incomings were to be shared, all the outgoings to be ‘agreed’ by the head of the family. I appreciate it might be different from your background, but I’d imagine some sort of similar unspoken payment rules existed in your world.
So when starting Monshare we knew it would not be for everyone, since in its very essence Monshare touches on the two taboos of traditional society: money and balance in a relationship. We anticipated that many consumers would not see the value in our product and rightfully so. User interviews showed couples who “have a joint bank account and it’s all they need”, “value relationships more than money” or “know roughly how much they spend and that’s enough”. We anticipated that. What we did not anticipate was that
- only 4 out of 10 couples share a bank account,
- only 3 out of 10 don’t care about their joint spending,
- over 8 out of 10 couples split their bills in one way or another.
When exploring market opportunities, we focused on three countries specifically:
- UK – for being the unchallenged fintech frontrunner of the world,
- US – for much less strict regulations and thus shorter time to market
- NL – for being.. Dutch! Who else would have a problem of going Dutch if not the Dutch themselves:-)
So we softly launched on those three markets in order to start learning more about our users and their unspoken payment rules. You can imagine how humbling and intriguing it was to welcome users from over 40 countries using Monshare. If we had a competition of the most ‘Dutch’ countries (Monshare version), there would be a few quite unexpected contestants! In fact Philippines, Qatar and Cyprus have now been added to my post-lockdown destination list, since some of our most loyal users come from there.
What does it mean for society and the world? I like thinking that it means the whole world is transitioning from ‘unspoken rules’ to ‘spoken agreements’ even in payment space. I want to believe that people, especially those in love, start speaking with each other, rather than ignoring and avoiding the ‘money-elephant’ in the room. And then maybe… just maybe… it means we can start talking about other uncomfortable topics (and build a tracker for that;-)?
Monshare is on it!