Fintech disruptor Starling Bank goes live

By Ryan Weeks on Friday 17 March 2017

Digital BankingAlternative Lending

Starling Bank unveils mobile app, gives access to beta users.

The wait is over for users of the much talked about fintech disruptor Starling Bank. The bank has now on-boarded the first of its customers in what is being referred to as a beta testing phase. It’s the first time that access to the bank has been opened up beyond friends, family and product testers.

Starling has been playing its cards fairly close to its chest for the past few years, despite being one of the best known names in the digital banking sector. But things have been ramping up recently. The firm launched its public API – which will serve as the foundation for its product “marketplace” – in February. On Wednesday, TransferWise was announced as its first marketplace partner.  

Starling will lean on feedback from its beta users as it gets the app in shape for a broader audience.

“Widening our beta testing programme means we can continue to develop the Starling Account; testing it, getting feedback, improving it, and adding new features over the next few months,” said Starling’s founder and CEO Anne Boden (pictured above). She said that she is proud to be working with a team that is “committed to changing banking for ever”.

What Starling’s beta users will find is an app that is built up around the core functions of a current account. Many fintech disruptors in the banking space offer users pre-paid cards, but not the full range of current account functionality. With Starling and others, like Revolut – users will be assigned account numbers and sort codes, meaning they can set up regular payments, have their salary paid into the app, and so on.

Other key features of the app include:

  • A contactless MasterCard debit card which can be used all over the world, and which in the future will be compatible with digital wallets like Apple and Android pay.
  • Real time oversight on money via a central feature called the “Starling Pulse”. This includes instant push notifications on payments and an account activity feed.
  • Card locking functionality.
  • An overdraft facility with adjustable limits up to a pre-authorised amount. Overdrafts are not commonplace within the digital banking sector.
  • Biometric identification in the form of a short video.

Budgeting functionality, specific savings goals and spending categorisation are all in the Starling pipeline.

Starling is backed by $70m in seed funding from a single investor named Harald McPike. 

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