Is some joined-up thinking required around this metadata debacle…?


I can appreciate how complicated it is to provide a nice friendly face to the metadata held about the millions of online merchants, traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers, and ATMs splattered across the globe. To convert every retailer/merchant/ATM into a nice mixed-case friendly name, properly geotagged, and with a decent logo is impossible for one organisation working in isolation. The completeness of this data largely depends on how pervasive your penetration is in your market and locale.

But rather than each enterprising fintech having to reinvent the wheel for their own specific product, ploughing in hundreds of hours of resources which detract from their own customer services, it seems incredulous to me that no-one has created a shared database that any subscribing organisation can read, contribute to, and validate. Hell… even the big monolithic banks might even subscribe to something like that - dragging their own mobile banking apps kicking and screaming into the 21st century!

Surely something like this has gotta be worth thinking about? Starling could, if they’re feeling particularly charitable, make it open-source initially. But it could happily be a commercial operation too - the banking sector regularly collaborate on things like this - organisations like LINK, National Hunter, and even the credit reference agencies are cases in point.

Merchant names - Traditional vs Challenger Banks Metadata

This is brilliant… definitely something to look into I think.


You’re totally right that if this is to be resolved then a more joined up approach is required. I’m personally surprised that having this information (friendly name, map, etc.) is so important to so many people?! It’s a cool feature but to be honest I feel it’s more of a gimmick than anything hugely useful. I feel there are other things that would enhance the core functionality provided by a bank (savings goals, receipt handling, connected accounts, etc.) and perhaps increasing that core functionality is more important?!


I personally really like this idea too. Nothing in the works just yet but you never know.


Could be a great idea. I think the more consumers get to know things like this can and do exist, the more it’ll be wanted.


It’s one of those things that people didn’t know they needed or wanted until it was shown to them.

In the past, I’ve had transactions on my First Direct account that I did not recognise. A map and a friendly name would’ve helped but First Direct doesn’t have this. So I used Google to find what the transactions were.

I think the key thing is, don’t implement functionality if you can’t get it to work reliably.

I’d rather not have this stuff in the Starling app since it is more often wrong than right making it useless.

That said, I know it works pretty successfully as Monzo has made it work. Not always 100% but more often right than wrong and super easy to report any corrections.

Gimmick, you say? At the moment I think you are right.


Feels a lot more like work in progress. We’ll look back next year…


I think it would be great but at the moment the metadata is somewhat of a Unique Selling Point that is used to attract new customers so there may be some reluctance at first.

As you say @Rob, it might be that a separate organisation may have to be spun out in order to make this more viable.

But, as they say, never say never!