Not so long ago we talked about the technology that brings Google Maps to your Uber or your plane ticket to your e-wallet – the tech that can even link your kettle to your wifi, if that’s your cup of tea.
That was an intro to APIs (application programming interfaces) – the tech many of us don’t even realise we use everyday. It also illustrated why we at Starling are such big fans of what technology can do to not only make life easier but also give us control over the data we create everyday.
Since then we’ve been busy putting our own APIs to the test.
For instance, you’ll soon be able to ask Google Home or Amazon Alexa to pay that new, cheaper utility bill via your Starling account, or ask how much you spent on Uber last week.
We’ve also opened up our Marketplace and Developer Platforms – meaning you can easily connect your Starling Account and your Moneybox account to enable real-time roundups into your Lifetime ISA so that you easily and automatically start to save for your first home. We have a partnership with Transferwise (which hardly needs an introduction). And, following our very first hackathon in April, we’re also working with Tail, the cashback rewards app.
Imagine if your bank account could tell you how much you spend on utility bills compared to others in your area, allow you to automatically switch suppliers to get a better deal in just a couple of taps.
Or, when you come to buy that first home, having a bank that can automatically pre-approve you for a mortgage, enabling you to compare offers, apply, and get it all signed off within a matter of minutes. No more gathering reams of documents and paper bank statements and a load of form filling – it’s automatic.
What’s crucial is that in this scenario your data is only shared upon your authorisation. It becomes your greatest ally. Or that’s how we see it.
Banks like Starling will ask you before sharing your data and tell you exactly what data will be shared, and with whom, to enable the service. APIs will then enable it to be securely shared only to whom you specify, and you can revoke access at any time.
So it goes without saying that at Starling, we developed our API in lock-step with our core product (the current account) to enable this connectivity and innovation.
Now, here comes the techy part - I'm going to give an update on exactly what we've built, what this currently enables and where we're heading next.
We’ve been hard at work building our API and developer platform in lock-step with our core product – the current account – and were excited to launch a PSD2-ready API last month, making us the first UK licensed bank to do so. 🎉
This means that developers can now build public applications on top of our API. You can see our platform and API docs here.
We celebrated the launch of our developer platform by holding our first Hackathon at Google Campus and had over 100 people in 25 teams building integrations on top of our API. The results were phenomenal.
PSD2 and Open Banking is extremely important because of the innovation and competition it enables, so we wanted to be out in the front of it, being a thought leader in how this works and how we can bring this to market effectively and securely. It’s one thing to talk about API-first banking, but we put our money where our mouth is and truly invested in it.
To be fair, challenger banks such as ourselves, Atom, Monzo, and others, don’t have to comply with PSD2 or Open Banking on the same timescales as the CMA 9 (the big banks who are required to comply first). Rather, we have until spring 2019 to comply, but we didn’t build an API because we have to be compliant.
Simply keeping up with compliance and forced regulation is not innovation.
So we’re going to keep investing in our API and developer platform and evolve it to stay best-in-class and lead by example. You can see what we’re currently working on in our Developer Roadmap here.
However, this is just the beginning.
Next, we’ll also be pushing further on our Starling Marketplace. Just as we’ve built APIs so others can integrate Starling into their product, like Moneybox, we’ll be integrating others’ APIs into Starling to enable our users to easily access the best fintech products from across the market, all from within their Starling app.
Gone are the days of struggling to figure out which foreign exchange product will give you the best rate and lowest fee. Gone will be the days of struggling through the complex process of finding and applying for a mortgage, or worse, remortgaging.
Over the next few months, we’ll continue to build out our APIs and Developer platform, and will additionally be working hard to build out our Starling Marketplace to easily let others plug into the Starling Platform as well to enable this access and ease-of-use of other products and services as well.
We’re so excited about bringing this innovation to banking, and hope you’ll join us.
Chief Platform Officer