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Starling Bank wins UK government contract, plus starts European expansion

The digital bank sizes up to its incumbent rivals, at home and on the continent.

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Announced today, Starling Bank has won a payment services deal with the UK Department for Work and Pensions to help verify benefit claimants for universal credit.

Under the contract, Starling will be responsible for overseeing a system for making initial small payments as a means of identity verification.

In addition, it has become the first UK challenger bank to be accepted into Target2, the EU’s payment system for large euro transactions. It will now be able to process faster payments for major retailers and big banks, marking Starling’s first move into euro wholesale banking.

Speaking to the Telegraph, CEO Anne Boden said: “It’s a step change for us. A lot of the other digital challengers are small and peripheral. What we’re doing is becoming a member of the big schemes using our expertise.”

The announcements put Starling Bank one step ahead of its digital rivals, in addition to integration moves earlier in the month. The challenger also opened registration for its business account offering in October this year, with plans to launch by 2018.

However Starling is still lagging behind major competitor Monzo in customer numbers, which has now reached close to 470,000 customers despite closing its doors to new users as it rolls out its Current Account.

Ms Boden added: “It’s good for an industry to have more than one player. It’s now very do-able to start a digital challenger and consumers have embraced it.”

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