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Starling Bank Turning Traditional Business Models Upside Down

6th of February 2019

Julian Sawyer,  Chief Operating Officer at Starling Bank, reflecting on blurring lines between collaboration and competition, and responding to customer needs. Join Copenhagen Member Meeting to hear more about his thoughts.

  1. Are the lines between collaboration and competition blurring,(e.g. technology licencing to competitors)?

Yes I think the lines are blurring and not only with technology collaboration.  The traditional value chain of a Bank or e-Money institution is changing and rightly so.  With innovative solutions, like Starling Bank’s Payment as a Service, it means that organisations can use Starling for all the payment processing rather than building their own capability – significantly reducing time and cost.

These types of initiatives turn traditional business models upside down – they change the focus from regulation and payment to focus on the customer. Building customer centric solution quickly and getting them to market leaving the complexity of payments and virtual accounts to others.


  1. What makes Starling so agile in responding to customer needs?

We are a technology business doing banking which is a critical mindset for our execution.  We also have built our own core banking platform meaning that the prioritisation decisions, features and functions are 100% in our control.  Our ways of working are agile but also flexible with rapid decision making.


  1. It has come up in several research that the younger generations still find branches important – is it surprising to hear from your customers that physical locations are still important to them?

We are a mobile only bank for those people who live their life on a mobile phone.  A Current (Cheque) Account is ideal for this channel as we use this account many times a day and we of course use our mobile 100s of times a day.  We use the Post Office to make cash deposits and money can be withdrawn both at the PO but also at any ATM. Branches have a role for other products, those more complex or needing advise but the current account does not warrant that infrastructure.

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