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Starling Bank boycotts Facebook and Instagram advertising

The CEO of neobank Starling has pulled ads from Facebook and Instagram in a stinging attack on its policies toward checks on financial fraud.

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Anne Boden/Starling Bank

The CEO of Starling Bank Anne Boden has pulled all paid advertising from Facebook and Instagram owing to concerns over financial scams.

Boden, writing in a blog post last week, said until the social media giant Meta, the recently rebranded owner of Facebook and Instagram, addresses fraudulent adverts it will cease to use it as a customer acquisition channel. 

“It cannot be right that these platforms profit from crime and yet remain beyond the reach of law,” she said.

“We want to protect our customers and our brand integrity. And we can no longer pay to advertise on a platform alongside scammers who are going after the savings of our customers and those of other banks,” she added.

Big tech rival Google said it would not be accepting financial services advertisements from firms that did not prove they are authorised by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or unless they qualified for certain limited exemptions in July of 2021.

Boden says she welcomes the move and says while Facebook and Instagram have agreed to this also, they have yet to act on it.

“Facebook (Meta) indicated in December that it will be doing something similar to Google to stop fraudsters advertising on its platform. This is good news. We are still waiting to find out when and how this initiative (from TechUK’s Online Fraud Steering Group) will happen. In the meantime, we’ve stopped all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram,” Boden said.

“I have repeatedly called out the big tech and social media giants for allowing financial fraudsters to advertise and post content on their platforms that result every day in people being scammed out of their savings,” Boden. 

Like its rival Monzo,Starling Bank has moved from word of mouth to more and more conventional advertising with rising budgets for marketing in recent years in a bid to continue to acquire new customers.

Starling Bank says it has opened over 2.7 million accounts to date, including 475,000 accounts for UK SMEs and has an £8.4bn deposit base after huge growth in 2021, up from £4.8bn a year ago. Its lending, meanwhile, is up from £1.9bn to £3.1bn.

Boden also doesn’t seem to be too impressed with Facebook’s new strategy of harnessing 'the metaverse’ to drive its future growth.

“While Facebook (Meta) may hold out all sorts of promises for the future, I really hope its focus on the Metaverse doesn’t become a distraction from doing what is right today, here and now in the UK of 2022.”

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