Digital bank Starling moves closer to launch with first debit card payment

By David Stevenson on Wednesday 12 October 2016

Alternative Lending

Deal with MasterCard sets stage for January 2017 launch

Digital bank Starling has completed its first card payment after partnering with global payments and technology company Mastercard, and card processor GPS. Headed by charismatic – and outspoken – CEO Anne Boden, Starling has promised to shake up the fusty world of banking with its launch in January 2017.

Starling has already declared that unlike “other next generation banks, we are not replicating the traditional bank model. We are not providing a range of products.”

But even an upstart challenger needs a debit card product offering, and the deal with MasterCard opens up access to a huge network – the payment processor boasts merchant acceptance at over 43.3 million acceptance locations around the world as well as hundreds of thousands of ATMs.

Launching in January 2017, the bank’s mobile app will connect what is spent on the card with predictive insights, financial wellness, and money management tools – building on a model first pioneered in the US by Simple Bank, now a part of BBVA.

Starling already holds a banking license and has clinched $70m in seed funding so far from a single investor – Harold McPike – in January of this year. In a report issued just a few weeks ago CEO Boden warned that if fintech wants to be revolutionary, “if it’s the car rather than faster horses that we want to race, then 2017 is going to be a pivotal year for fintech.”

The tie up with MasterCard should help make that revolution take shape for Starling – access to payments systems is a crucial first step for any bank, even a digital only one. According to Julian Sawyer, COO of Starling Bank: “Starling wants to empower its customers. Partnering with Mastercard for our debit card means our customers will be able to use this to complement our full set of banking features – including direct access to Faster Payments, direct debit, and overdrafts – in a secure and convenient way. Whilst we are still in the earliest phases of testing our cards, making our first payment is a huge step for Starling. We have the licence, the technology, and now the card. All that’s left is to bring you the app.”

Our previous article on Starling can be read here.

Starling is creating an app that will replace the current account for a generation of mobile consumers.

Having assembled a team of engineers, artists and economists, the build of the bank is nearing completion, and will be ready to launch in early 2017.

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