After a long career in senior positions in traditional banking, Anne Boden abandoned her old job to launch the mobile-only Starling Bank. What moved her to take this bold step and what distinguishes Starling from other banks Anne Boden reveals in this interview.
Anne Boden is the founder and CEO of Starling Bank, a UK mobile-only bank. In 2018 she was named in Forbes as one of Europe’s ‘Top 50 Women working in Tech. Meet Anne Boden at the Handelsblatt Banking Summit, 4 – 5 September 2019, Frankfurt am Main.
Interview with Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank
Mrs Boden, in 2014 you gave up your old job to start Starling. What moved you to make this risky move?
After the financial crisis of 2008, it was clear that the financial industry was in need of reform and innovation. I watched as much of the industry tried to put the banks back together the way they were before, almost as if nothing had changed. I’m a computer scientist by training and realised that existing technology and systems couldn’t be fixed in a way that would provide the speed and service customers needed if the industry was to really change for the better. That’s why I decided to start my own bank and build all the technology from scratch. You’re right to suggest it was a risk. At the time people told me it couldn’t be done. But here we are five years later with 600,000 customers and counting.
What sets Starling apart from other (neo) banks?
Everything! We’ve built a world-class personal current account and we’re committed to building the world’s best banking proposition for small and medium-sized enterprises. Having built our own revolutionary, proprietary and highly scalable tech stack, we are now leveraging and monetising the platform through the sale of payment and banking services. Being engineering-led, we have enormous service and cost advantages over both the incumbents and neobanks.
You have gained 600,000 customers since the app was launched in May 2017. How big could Starling become?
We believe we will become a major, mainstream retail bank in the UK, Europe and beyond with millions of customers. We’re particularly excited about growing our customer base of small business owners. At the same time, we expect to become a market leader in Banking Services.
Your bank is in England. Does Brexit affect your expansion project in Europe?
Brexit will not knock our European expansion off course, although it has inevitably delayed things. Our plan remains to expand to Ireland and then France and Germany and beyond. We’re applying for a banking licence in Ireland, which will give us passporting rights into other EU countries.