All the way back in March 2016, we launched the first version of Monzo-to-Monzo payments, letting you pay any of your friends on Monzo with just their phone number.
Since then, we’ve continued to improve on the feature and later that year we started showing you which of your friends were already on Monzo and launched Monzo.me.
Today, we’re excited to announce the latest update to the Payments tab: Nearby Friends!
Monzo Nearby Friends
Now, when you’re out for dinner with colleagues, you don’t need to have their phone number in your contacts. Everyone just opens Nearby Friends from the Payments tab and thanks to the magic of Bluetooth, you can see anyone else on Monzo nearby. To protect individual’s privacy, you can only see other people who also have Nearby Friends open at the same time. With a couple of taps, you can send them money and you’re done — say goodbye to laboriously reading out phone numbers!
How does it work?
We’re using Google Nearby, an API service enabling messages to be sent to other devices within close proximity so that your Monzo app can see other Monzo users nearby, but how does that actually work?
Right from the beginning, we knew it was important to not share any of your personal information with a third party during this process. When you open the Nearby Friends screen, we send an anonymous token to Google, who then broadcast that to devices nearby using Bluetooth. At the same time, the app starts listening for other devices nearby.
When your Monzo app discovers a device nearby, it receives this token, which can be exchanged for the name and profile picture of the broadcasting user via our API. We also receive an identifier which we can use to identify who to make the payment to. The token sent to Google expires after a short period of time.
We hope you like this update! Let us know what you think in the forum.