Starling takes the challenger fight to big banks with European and wholesale push


Starling’s growth has lagged behind rival digital challenger Monzo - founded by Starling’s former chief technology officer Tom Blomfield - which has amassed close to 470,000 customers.

This paragraph sits awkwardly with me. Monzo’s 450,000+ customers were for a PrePaid card product that is now closed to new customers. It’s an entirely different product to a current account, such is the product to which it is being compared with Starling.

I’d suspect many of those Monzo customers thought they were buying into a cheap currency card and don’t understand the conversion to current account. I expect many not to upgrade. And Starling still doesn’t add additional fees on overseas ATM withdrawals.

That aside, it’s an interesting article and shows that Starling has some big ambitions.


All these additional services could also help fund the current account (i.e lower/no fees) - unlike Monzo.


I agree but is there also a danger that Starling will become more like a big bank by securing such business, more corporate and less like the bank that has attracted so many customers to date?

I sincerely hope not, and I hope that Starling’s core purpose will remain focused on providing the best current account experience they can possibly provide.


Bigger yes, but I’m thinking that’ll mean a more diverse bank with the current account as the core.

Such expansion, either in geography or facilities, was probably always the way forward. I mean, what bank is just a current account?

Ultimately the quality of the mobile current account will how Starling is judged and I suspect, how it’ll judge itself.

It’s getting rather exciting, though :grin:


Interesting perspective on all counts, Johnny.


Yes I don’t think the figures are totally representative of current account customers. Everyone talks of Starling as having customers in 10,000’s, whilst Monzo I’m 100,000’s. Give it a year to even out and look again see how many people swap from prepaid to current accounts.

There was (and still is) a failure to understand that the prepaid is going to end. Lots that got annoyed with the £200 monthly ATM limit. So I wouldn’t want to bet that all the prepaid customers convert to a current account. At least Starling customers know what they have signed up for.

I think that features will even out, each will have their own exclusives which people will choose. There’s loads of business for everyone, so it shouldn’t be seen as a straight fight between the two. Tandem and N26 have yet to show their hands yet, plus the big banks won’t want to give up customers easily and they might put on a bit of a show.

I’ve got both accounts and see merits in each. None have really sparked my interest to wish to switch from FD.

Starling were winning for me, their piece on the difference between them and the big banks was superb, but cancelled out by the rather slap dash, fatally flawed ‘Black Friday cashback’ fiasco, which is still causing confusion now. The two surprised me that they came from the same people. One visionary, the other legacy. Shame really.

Anything Starling can do on an international stage to make some more money and improve their product should be applauded I guess. Time will tell if they just morph into another modern day legacy bank, or can remain fresh and a challenger, but just with a bit more cash in their back pocket to implement ideas they’d not been able to do before.

As said, interesting times ahead!!



Starling being involved with Universal Credit and the Tory government in any way is a massive no for me.

Ethics is a huge selling point for me - or conversely, a reason for me not to deal with a company.

Just tipped me over to Monzo (I’m currently using both, but mostly Monzo at the moment). I’m sure it won’t matter to them in the scale of things. But I’ll be closing my account today as a direct result of this.

I’ll still keep an eye on the forum and still be interested as to what happens. But, like I said, I won’t be keeping my account.


I think for Starling, ‘we’ (their current customers) are both a blessing and a curse.

Early adopters can be great ambassadors for the bank - hence the whole ‘invite friends, get a t-shirt’ thing (and the Black Friday campaign - for better or worse). But also we’ve already proven we’ve actually got very little actual brand loyalty - because we were happy to switch to a new bank pretty quickly.

We’re also (at least in these forums) probably far more aware of then the traditional ‘man on the street’ in terms of what actual banking options are available. I’m personally in the queue for Tandem although it’s been 3 weeks and, although they keep telling me I’m moving up, it’s not actually gone up at all. I’m also keeping an eye on N26 and Monzo. I did apply for a Loot card as well - but their application process fell over halfway through so I never completed that although they keep emailing me to ask me to finish that off.

So, that does mean that if another bank does launch with a great new feature, or if Starling do something you disagree with (the announcement about the involvement with Universal Credit is going to be controversial), we’re going to be more likely to jump ship pretty quickly.

Meanwhile, Lloyds, Barclays and Natwest just carry on with a poor service safe in the knowledge that the vast majority of their customers wouldn’t even consider switching accounts no matter how bad it got…



I’m sure Starling employees must lurk on both forums and notice the absurdity of some of the comments by certain people on brand loyalty, features etc.

I find it amusing that people get so emotional, but that’s just me. I suppose I can get too invested in things I’m really interested in in the real world.


More corporate could in many ways be good for customers. Corporate does not have to mean bad.


That’s the thing with easy switching. Easy to switch in and out.

I have both and will probably use Curve when I get near the end. Yesterday was 290, now today 421?? I guess I’ll get there soon.

Cashback and save the change are big for me, Monzo seem quite keen for it.


I must admit, this makes me feel a little less happy too. :frowning:


While I dislike the Universal Credit, it is involvement with Her Majesty’s Government that may raise concern for many. To turn it into a political statement just because you dislike the Conservative and Unionist party (I do too) is counter productive as for many any Government regardless of which party is leading the Government is equally an issue. I think it better to object from that more balanced perspective.


I’m not trying to start a protest movement or anything. But it’s a very valid point. Universal Credit is a particularly nasty policy from a particularly nasty government (in my view).

I hate the Tories, yes - but I wouldn’t close my account just because the bank had a government contract. I actually work for a company that has government contracts (which date back years). I’m not about to give up my job though.

Universal Credit is particularly bad - it has people, working people too, virtually destitute and starving. In Britain in 2017. For a company to sign up to be any part of that specific process - just, no. I’m not letting a penny of my money go anywhere near them. At best it’s ignorance, at worst it’s uncaring and unethical.


I only disapprove as I’ve personally fallen afoul of the government’s failed Jobseeker/UC system.

I almost had to give up my job because my (at the time zero hour contract) was giving me vastly different hours on different weeks; some weeks I was left with no money as the week before (or one in six to eight week time period) I did one hour too many. I was being judged on how many hours per six to eight weeks, the threshold per week was incredibly low.

I wasn’t even allowed to continue with my voluntary work; yet was expected to work full time for free in a charity shop; the paid staff openly berated, threatened, heckled and swore at me. I reported it to both the Job Centre and the charity and nothing happened. :frowning:

I think the fact that I had to SERIOUSLY consider quitting a paid job because of the broken benefits system says it all!

I have pride and enjoy working, this and the help of my family helped me to stick it out. I’m glad to say I worked my way up to a pretty good contract with said company and have been there over two years now.

I found being a jobseeker to have been the lowest point of my life and one considering the depression it caused me one that almost cost me my life.

The system needs more changes than Universal Credit can ever achieve!

Sorry for the slightly personal rant; it’s just I wanted to illustrate that my hatred for the system is way more personal than just a political dislike.


The only issue being, if every bank was ‘ethical’ there wouldn’t be anyone offering their services. The same goes for any policy plans Jeremy Corbyn has if elected - not everyone will agree to that either - but I don’t think its a reason to turn away.


I definately won’t, I like being a Starling customer and whatever a bank or company invests in or does business with there will be someone who objects.

I think it’s good that Starling has such a contract as it’ll help keep everything running and be a boon for business. (It’s just a shame for me it’s a UC thing; this is hardly the end of the world for me though. :wink: )

The UC and Jobseeker issue runs much deeper and whether this deal was in place or not UC and the JSA system would still be run the same regardless.


I think it’s quite acceptable for people to have personal reasons for their decisions regardless of whether you or I agree with them or not.


Thats absolutely true.


I think there’s ‘ethical’, then there’s dubious/average, things companies do that are bad and people don’t really like but just accept or don’t realise.
Then there’s companies doing things or engaging with activities or policies that actively cause damage to people and society.

I try my best to be ethical, I’m probably half way there - but I also probably fall into the middle category a lot too.

But this is black and white for me and fits firmly into the last category. Just do some googling on UC and it’s effects.

I’m sad to have closed my account :frowning: I’ll probably still post here, but won’t really be engaged as I won’t have direct input or experience.