Could you tell a little about how Starling Bank works?
Starling is a technology start up with a banking licence. We’re creating an app that helps people to manage their money and understand where and how they are spending, so they can make better decisions about their money. Starling offers a completely new way for people to control and look after their finances, offering a fully mobile account with unparalleled tools and insights into everyday spending. Ultimately, we have the customer at the heart of everything we do.
Where did the inspiration behind Starling Bank come from, and what is your mission?
Starling’s mission is simple: to create a bank like no other, that puts the customer first and uses the best technology to transform their relationship with money.
Anne Boden founded Starling after a 30-year career in traditional banking. Having started her career as a computer technologist at Lloyds Bank, she then moved on to Standard Chartered Bank and then UBS in Zurich, and finally she was Chief Operating Officer of Allied Irish Banks Plc.
However, after the financial crisis, Anne realised that whilst the world had changed, banking hadn’t. Despite new technology and radically different customer demands, banks were stuck in their old ways. After spending some time in startups, she saw how the banking sector could use technology in a much more effective, innovative way, putting the customer back at the heart of the relationship.
With a highly talented group of engineers, artists and economists, she began building a bank from scratch in 2014, gaining a banking licence in summer 2016.
Starling Bank aims to help users make better financial decisions, how exactly does Starling do that, and what form does this take?
Customers will be able to see their entire money position, not just a balance, but the money they really have to spend when all the bills and regular payments go through. They can benefit from insights based on their spending data and have the option to track specific categories of spend, and even control them. We’ve also made it easy to set tangible savings goals in the form of ‘pots’ which are protected from day to day spend, and we’ll help them to identify how much they can save and how often. All of these features are designed to give customers a better understanding of their money, and better control.
And via our marketplace, we’ll be providing seamless access to other financial products and services, so customers can explore solutions to short, medium or long term money goals such as saving for a deposit, or investing for their future life plans.
To many, the banking and financial services industry might seem like an industry dominated by major banks and markets. What challenges do new businesses face when entering such an established industry?
The market dominance of the big banks, through allocation of venture capital and other means, is the biggest barrier not only to new businesses but also to customer benefit in general.
However, the financial technology industry has become synonymous with a movement for positive change and a mind-set geared towards disruption. By choosing to build our app from scratch, we’re also moving away from the legacy of traditional finance. We’re more nimble, more intuitive, and built with the very latest technology. We should also remember that customers are smart, they will make informed decisions based on the quality of our product and customer support.
There is an increasing array of new financial technologies emerging, all with their individual niches. Where do you see the future of personal banking in the future? And where do you see Starling within that future?
The future of banking is the customer. Unlike older banking corporations, fintech startups can take advantage of their more streamlined operations to be more adaptive to consumer needs.
Startups like Starling will strive for the customer-centric approach that the mobile generation expects and demands.
Technology has been able to transform our lives in many different ways, from how we enjoy music or how we shop. The banking experience is about to go through that revolution, and we are keen to lead the way.
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