Starling Bank needed additional capacity to help its well-respected digital team deliver important business banking projects.
Since its launch in 2014, Starling Bank has been driven by continuous innovation, seeking to create an attractive and truly differentiated offering.
In early 2019, it secured £100M of funding from the BCR Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF) to enhance its business banking services. CEO Anne Boden said at the time: “Starling will deliver an advanced fully-digital offering that connects SMEs with the financial solutions they need to thrive. This is the opportunity to bring new technology and a new approach to the sector.”
With the funding in place, Starling Bank needed to quickly add capacity its well-respected digital team, to deliver a number of products and services. These included a set of business accounting tools (its ‘Business Toolkit’), a new online banking platform, and lending and product comparison capabilities.
Longer-term, the intention was to grow the in-house team. But to meet its immediate need, the bank was seeking to collaborate with like-minded suppliers.
We quickly mobilised a multi-skilled team to meet Starling Bank’s requirements, and continually evolved it over the next 18 months to support a variety of strategic programmes.
Fast mobilisation of multi-disciplinary team
Starling Bank recognised that Softwire’s outlook aligned well with its own, both in terms of talent recruitment and our approach of working in compact teams with subject-matter experts and digital specialists collaborating closely.
It initially asked us to provide a number of roles, and we mobilised a team to start work on-site at Starling Bank within a few weeks of the BCR CIF money being secured.
Supporting strategic programmes
The make-up of this Softwire contingent continually evolved over the following 18 months, to meet Starling Bank’s needs. Throughout, we worked alongside Starling Bank’s own engineering team and other digital partners, providing engineering, user experience design, business analysis and product ownership capabilities.
Projects we were involved with included the creation of Starling’s business invoicing software and central accounting ledger, both key parts of the Business Toolkit. We then played a major role in shaping the front end of the wider Business Toolkit, to ensure a consistent user experience across the various components. We also undertook customer research to feed into Starling Bank’s pricing strategy for the toolkit.
Elsewhere, Starling was developing its browser-based online banking platform, initially for business customers. Our designers worked closely with Starling’s engineering teams to create the interaction and visual designs for the full online bank.
Our work has helped Starling Bank launch fresh capabilities and set new standards for neobank business banking.
Softwire’s involvement across a range of strategic digital programmes within Starling Bank has enabled it to launch a variety of new products and services in a short space of time, while enabling it to expand its in-house team in parallel.
Of the mobile-first neobanks, Starling is among the vanguard when it comes to offering full business banking on both mobile and desktop. The latter launched in September 2019, and has also laid the groundwork for Starling’s future personal online banking portal.
The subsequent launch of the Business Toolkit has enabled it to further differentiate its services among fully regulated neobanks, by offering integrated accounting tools that make running a business simpler for its target customers. Equally importantly, the toolkit is providing an additional source of recurring revenue.
John Mountain, CIO at Starling Bank, concludes: “Softwire was in a position to mobilise quickly, and bring a variety of different skills into our team as required. This worked really well for Starling Bank as we grew and hired over two years, to deliver our CIF programme.”