I’m evaluating Starling at the moment for business (just opened an account), and would like to give you my first impressions - which were mostly really favourable - this is a really impressive first effort at a new business account. I’d encourage anyone else who’s unsure to try the account, most problems I found would be easily solved by Starling in future.
First here is a quick comparison with Tide as I’ve been using them most recently, and they’re probably one of your closest competitors:
- Charges - Tide charges a few £ a month (20p per transaction), Starling is free for SMB. Both are reasonable (Starling more than reasonable!)
- Setup - Not bad on Tide, wonderful experience on Starlng - congratulations
- Apple Pay - Starling has it, Tide doesn’t - starling setup for this is lovely, well done.
- Scheduled transactions - Starling has it, Tide doesn’t
- International payments - Starling has it, Tide doesn’t
- Custom categories - Tide has it, Starling doesn’t
- Multiple accounts - Tide has it, Starling doesn’t, though goals might be a fudge
- Multiple cards - Tide is working on this, Starling not yet?
- Transaction search - Tide has it, Starling doesn’t
- Transaction export - Tide lets you export all transactions quickly, Starling exports per month (!?)
- UI - Tide is clearer IMO, not as flashy, but clearer - see notes below.
- Integrations - Tide has started Xero, but I haven’t used it so can’t comment.
So on balance I think Starling is winning here with things like scheduled transactions (for wages say), with some caveats - it is clearly not tailored for business use at present, but I’d hope that would change. Transaction classification and export is way behind Tide though, you need to put some serious thought and work into that.
On a more personal level, some first impressions and dashed expectations:
Onboarding is great, this is an excellent experience which took just a few minutes, and is way ahead of any high street bank.
Transaction Search - simple search on category/date would suffice, if categories were not broken. I just want to search transactions, nothing fancy.
Categories - oh dear. Holidays, Groceries, Lifestyle, Shopping - these aren’t appropriate at all for business banking. Just give us custom categories please. This is far more important for a business account than a personal one, as it is I’d have to categorise everything by hand after export to accounting software, and ignore starling categories completely. Also your CSV doesn’t appear to export category? I’d put category on CSV export, otherwise you can’t get that data out. I only want custom text-based categories which remember which category was used last time on a merchant/payee.
Transaction export - this appears to be based around the antiquated idea of monthly statements and features annoying repeated legal disclaimers. This is pretty cumbersome for business use, I would want a yearly export based on business year end, seems that is coming though, so that’s good.
Goals - I suppose I could use this to set aside money for tax, or protect it from card spending - feels pretty superfluous on a business account, and the marketing screens are inappropriate. Not a huge deal.
Marketplace - where is this? I was going to have a look, but perhaps not active on the business side?
Welcome email - I expected but did not receive a welcome email since I gave you my email address. I don’t expect much email from a bank (insecure), but did expect a welcome of some sort.
UI - this seems a little off for a business account. Pay is good (nicer than Tide), Spending includes incoming, which is odd, and a weird On/At dichotomy (edit this is now fixed), and Home looks like a daily spending tracker, not sure I’ll use that on a business account. Card should IMO be less visible, and Goals perhaps I’ll use for Tax or similar, not sure it is appropriate for business accounts. I expected something more like:
- Activity - searchable, exportable transaction feed, with Incoming/Outgoing split, not On/At
- Account - card details, account no etc.
- Pay - pretty much as it is
The UI quibbles above are relatively unimportant, and you have all the basic banking functions working well it seems, but being able to properly classify transactions is important, that’s the biggest problem.
So my takeaways for Starling would be:
For business please work on transaction categories, search and export
It would be interesting to hear what others think who have just opened an account for business.