All posts in “starling bank”

Starling’s marketplace banking rollout adds pensions, savings, travel insurance and mortgages


Starling, the U.K. challenger bank that offers a mobile-only current account, continues to execute on its marketplace banking strategy. Following the required regulatory approval, the Starling Marketplace is adding a number of financial services integrations, spanning pensions, savings, travel insurance and mortgage brokerage.

Specifically, Starling is partnering with PensionBee, Wealthsimple, Kasko, and Habito, respectively. It says it’s targeting 25 partnerships in total in 2018. The challenger bank has already added Flux to its in-app marketplace to offer item-level receipts and loyalty from Flux partner merchants.

The addition of financial services speaks to Starling Bank’s broader “marketplace banking” vision: the idea that your bank will provide you with access to a choice of third-party money-related apps and services. It’s also more evidence that the battle between banks and fintechs isn’t a zero sum game. Partnerships are being forged at a rapid pace, either formally or simply through open APIs mandated by Open Banking/PSD2 legislation.

In fact, at a recent event I hosted, Starling’s Chief Platorm Officer Megan Caywood also made the point that the challenger banks and wider fintech startup ecosystem are in many ways on the same side. Fintechs run on existing banking rails and whose better banking rails to run on than the forward-thinking and API-friendly challenger banks, rather than incumbents.

Meanwhile, the Starling Marketplace strategy is to partner far and wide to create a network effect on both sides of its market where the app becomes more useful the more users and partners/integrations it adds. The addition of a first group of financial services covering core banking needs other than a current account begins to flesh this out a little.

With that said, Starling isn’t disclosing customer numbers, while the integration with PensionBee, Wealthsimple, Kasko, and Habito is being rolled out in two stages.

Version one sees each provider visible in the Starling Marketplace in the Starling app. If you are also an existing user of the partner app (e.g. an existing PensionBee user) then you can connect the partner to Starling, so you have the widget in the Starling app to see high level detail (e.g. Total Balance of pension). If you are a new user, you’ll be re-directed to the partner app and, once you’ve signed up, you’ll be asked if you are happy to share your data with Starling so that it shows up in the Starling Marketplace as a widget.

Version two, coming later in Q1, will see partner providers use the Starling API to help new users set up accounts (similar to Facebook type login but using your Starling credentials). The widget in the Marketplace will also gain functionality. In addition to showing high level data (e.g Total Balance), you’ll be able to take a number of simple actions like adding money to your pension or making a claim on your travel insurance, all within the Starling Marketplace.

“Those features will come later this year, as we also expand the ‘widgets’ to show a bit more detailed data as well,” Caywood tells me.

And in case you’re wondering, Starling will generate affiliate revenue per each of these partners, while I’m told this will be shown in the Starling Marketplace per partner so that customers are always made aware.

Adds Caywood in a statement:

“The expansion of our Marketplace is a huge milestone for Starling as we continue to give our customers control of their money like never before. We are building a banking experience fit for the 21st Century, where the best financial products are available securely in one place.

Last year, we launched our full set of Open APIs, and enabled integrations with companies like Moneybox, Yoyo Wallet, Yolt, Tail, and Flux. Now we’re excited to take that to the next level by integrating financial services providers into the Starling Marketplace.”

Mobile payment and loyalty platform Yoyo Wallet integrates with Starling Bank


In another example of Starling Bank jumping on the Open Banking/PSD2 train before legislation in the U.K. and Europe next year will force banks to do so, it is launching its latest API partnership: this time with Yoyo Wallet, the U.K.-based mobile payment and loyalty platform.

The new integration sees Yoyo use Starling’s Open Banking-compliant API to let you link your Starling bank account to your Yoyo Wallet so that whenever you pay at one of Yoyo’s retail partners using your Starling Bank card, you automatically collect any loyalty points on offer. This means that you don’t have to remember to pay using the Yoyo app (or, presumably, a retailer’s white labelled version), which otherwise requires opening the app and scanning a bar code.

Here’s how it works: To begin linking your Starling account to your Yoyo account, you open the Yoyo app and are asked to scan your Starling card using your phone’s camera, like you ordinarily do to add any card as a payment option to Yoyo Wallet. However, in this instance, Yoyo will recognise you bank with Starling and ask to you to authenticate with Starling and grant it permission to access certain data from your Starling account.

Once you’ve done so, any time you use your Starling card at Yoyo-accepting high street merchants, you instantly earn retailer-specific loyalty points, which can be exchanged for rewards, discounts and offers. Yoyo’s retailer partnerships include high street chains such as Planet Organic, Fernandez & Wells, Wrap It Up and HOP Vietnamese.

More broadly, this speaks to Starling Bank’s “marketplace banking” vision: the idea that your bank will provide you with access to a choice of third-party money-related apps and services. However, for now at least, Yoyo is simply making use of the Starling API and the partnership doesn’t see Yoyo Wallet listed in the Starling Marketplace portion of the Starling Bank app (although I’m told this is coming) and Yoyo Wallet’s item level receipt data doesn’t show up in the Starling Bank app, either.

This makes it a much less deep integration than Starling’s recent partnership with Flux, which also offers item level digital receipts and soon retail loyalty programs. That could change, of course, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Yoyo more deeply integrate with Starling at a future date. After all, Starling’s marketplace banking strategy is to partner far and wide to create a network effect on both sides of its market where the app becomes more useful the more users and partners/integrations it adds.

Along with Flux, and now Yoyo Wallet, it has also integrated to varying degrees with offers platform Tail and savings app Moneybox. Meanwhile, a partnership with TransferWise was announced in March but has yet to see the light of day.

UK’s digital-only Starling Bank adds Apple Pay support


Digital-only UK “challenger” bank, Starling Bank, has added support for Apple Pay — meaning its customers can now add their Starling debit card to their Apple Wallet and make contactless payments drawing from funds in their Starling account via their Apple devices.

The fintech startup launched a beta for its own app back in March so it’s been pretty quick to add support for Apple’s contactless payment tech — and is lauding itself as the first of the fintech banks to do so. (Although, also today, two European fintech startups are announcing Apple Pay support in some markets.)

Multiple UK banks and building societies already support Apple Pay, including the major high street banks. Although Starling says it will be the first bank in the UK to offer in-app provisioning for Apple Pay users which means that new Starling customers will be able to load their card into their digital wallet virtually, before the physical MasterCard debit card arrives in the post.

Apple pay is accepted as a method of payment by “hundreds of thousands” of retail locations in the UK, according to Apple. Back in May, the company also suggested a majority of UK POS terminals were now able to support higher value contactless payments via the tech (those that don’t support unlimited payments have a cap of £30).

Aside from offering contactless payments with a layer of biometric security, Apple is pushing the privacy angle to drive uptake of its payment tech, noting on its website that “your card details are never shared by Apple when you use Apple Pay, making purchases with your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac is the safer, more private way to pay”.

That’s especially interesting when you consider Google’s stated intent, earlier this year, to track credit and debit card spending to further profile web users for ad targeting purposes.

Other ad targeting giants such as Facebook also buy up large amounts of third party data relating to users’ offline lives in a bid to expand its ability to profile people.

Apple Pay shields users’ credit or debit card numbers from this type of tracking because the numbers are not stored on a user’s device nor on Apple’s servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on the device, with each transaction authorized via a one-time unique dynamic security code.