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Starling COO reveals how bank built business account offering in 12 weeks

In the first week of January, the challenger bank Starling set out to launch a current account for small and medium sized businesses. On 31 March – just twelve weeks later – it signed up its first business customer.

The three month turnaround – a phenomenally short window of time for the world of banking – could not have happened without the businesses’ single code base, according to Starling’s chief operating officer.

Speaking at the New Statesman’s Fintech Summit in London on Thursday (8 November), Julian Sawyer said the company’s lean architecture meant it could roll out new products at a rate unimaginable for its more established rivals.

“It was 12 weeks to launch a whole new product, with terms and conditions, but having a single code base and putting it on a mobile phone makes the process really straight forward,” he told the audience of finance professionals.

Sawyer added that too many businesses waste time perfecting products ahead of release. “We all spend time looking for utopia, but just to get products out to market and set them live is really key.”

The fintech executive also highlighted the importance of appreciating an organisation’s limits. “We’re good at what we do, but we know what we’re not good at,” Sawyer told the summit.

Starling is regarded as one of the UK’s most successful challenger banks, having signed up more than 210,000 people by August this year, up from 43,000 in November 2017. This puts it significantly behind its closest rival Monzo, which hit 1m customer accounts in September. But Anne Boden, Starling’s chief executive, claimed in an interview with the New Statesman earlier this year that it was the more serious of the two banks.  “We’ve only been a bank,” she said. “We’ve never been a pre-paid card, and we have many more of the real banking features.”