Accelerating innovation at Starling Bank

In this edition of our Spotlight on Finance series, we spoke to the incredibly knowledgeable Jason Maude – Chief Technology Advocate at Starling Bank. Jason shares his insight on why technology is the necessary bedrock of their approach.

Please can you start by giving us some background to yourself and what you’re responsible for? 

I am the Chief Technology Advocate at Starling, my job is to promote the technology behind Starling bank, both in terms of the the nitty gritty bits of the software, but also how we approach technology.

Starling was founded in 2014 by Anne Boden, who was a banking executive for many years at top tier banks. After the financial crisis, she was looking for ways to reform banking by making banks deliver more to their customers, and faster. She found she wasn’t able to do this even as a C suite executive, so instead she created Starling Bank. 

What have been the main learnings and takeaways from the past year as the pandemic has progressed?

Fundamentally it’s proven to validate our approach. With everything that’s happened in the past year, there hasn’t really been this ‘game changing’ shift for the banking industry – instead it’s been more of an accelerant. For instance, things that might’ve taken 5 or 6 years to implement, have now happened within a year.

 “things that might’ve taken 5 or 6 years to implement, have now happened within a year”

As well, we make no assumptions that things won’t go wrong, so when they do, we can cope. This has made us very resilient against the shock disaster of things like everyone having to go home to work from home. For us, that wasn’t too much of a shock. Luckily, we could all pick up laptops and work from home. And from the customer’s perspective, there was very little change, their bank has always been mobile native so there was effectively no difference. 

What are your main goals for this year with regard to customer experience and your digital offering?

We’re doing a lot of work in the business banking space. We’re trying to shake up business banking in the same way that we’ve shaken up consumer banking. Business banking is a lot more complicated than consumer banking. So, we’re trying to bring the type of automation in finances that you would find in large corporates to the SME market. We’re aiming to give SME owners access to a level of finance automation they didn’t have previously, and in doing so the ability to focus 100% on their passion – which is why they started their business in the first place. 

“We’re aiming to give SME owners access to a level of finance automation they didn’t have previously”

How is technology helping you to meet the expectations of your customers?

Technology is the necessary bedrock of everything we do. That’s helped in the sense that we’re not fighting against other priorities or other delivery channels. Because it’s the only thing we do, therefore we have to get it right. Take for example the online sign up for a new bank account. If it doesn’t work, no one’s going to sign up for a bank account as there’s no alternate channel to do so.

“Technology is the necessary bedrock of everything we do.”

We have to put all of our work into optimising the user experience, which is ultimately great from the customer’s perspective. It means we ensure that our products are the best they possibly can be. 

Discover other insights from some of the UK’s leading organisations in sectors such as banking, retail and local government, among others, by following our Spotlight Series in the Futr blog. If you are interested in using technology to drive digital transformation, contact the Futr team tosee how live chat and chatbots for banks can help you. 
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