"We have built the best banking infrastructure I've ever come across", Anne Boden, founder of Starling Bank. Starling is now firmly established as a genuine challenger bank. Its accounts are mobile only. With an infrastructure built from scratch, free from the legacy issues suffered by the large retail banks, it is well placed to integrate with payments and other fintech platforms and take full advantage of new data streams and the open banking initiative to deliver greater speed, differentiated services and improved service levels.
Starling's next growth phase will see it develop from challenger to facilitator - leveraging its infrastructure to provide solutions for other fintechs. Will Starling be the first fintech challenger bank to truly crack the brand differentiation enjoyed by the big retail banks? Can it secure a significant market share? It seems to be well on that journey.
Starling may well have other advantages over the larger banks. As a startup itself it understands the frustrations and challenges of doing business with the major players and should be well placed to partner with other innovators and adopt new technologies, processes and data uses faster than many of its competitors. It seems well placed to stay ahead of the curve.
How will the traditional banks respond? Can they keep pace?
"We are the Amazon of banking," she claims. Starling's digital marketplace brings in other fintech players, such as investment app Wealthify, Pensionbee, mortgage provider Habito and travel insurance provider Kasko. Customers can opt in to allow Starling to crunch their data to recommend these products, and Starlings gets a kind of "finder's fee". ... Some major customers use Starling's back end for process payments, including the UK's Department for Work and Pensions, and MasterCard Send. Winning the contract with Government was "an incredible validation", says Boden. Last month, Starling launched its white-label banking arm. Savings provider Raisin UK is its first official customer but there are 12 others in the pipeline, according to Boden. The bank's current accounts are also selling like hot cakes, with 210,000 users in the UK, 10,000 business customers, and a recently launched account for 16-17-year-olds