Interchange income is a transaction-based revenue that banks, like ours, receive each and (almost) every time you use your card to buy things. In each case — whether you’re tapping to make that daily coffee purchase or treating yourself to a couple of Thursday night drinks — the merchant will pay a small fee: the majority of this will go to the card issuing bank, while the rest will go to the merchant’s acquiring bank.
Fees and commissions
This is where a bank’s profit and loss becomes more interesting, particularly in the case of Starling. Usually, this is where a typical high street bank will include any fees they have generated, commission they have earned relating to financial products, or where a bank might recognise fees on a premium account offering that charges a monthly subscription.
For most traditional banks, this will be as a result of cross-selling or upselling their own financial products, such as packaged current accounts, mortgages, credit cards and personal loans — you know, those pesky emails and letters in the post that you might find yourself receiving on a regular basis!
It’s a little different at Starling where we only offer one product — a current account — but we acknowledge that a current account might only be a part of many people’s financial profile. Since we’re all about helping to give everyone the opportunity for a healthy financial life, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on offers of other complementary products and services — that’s where our Marketplace plays a part.
And this is how Starling can make fee and commission income, as some (but not all) of our partners will give us a percentage or flat fee for every sign up made through our Marketplace. However, as our Marketplace grows and in order for you to have true clarity and control, we’ll explicitly let you know if that’s the case before you decide to connect to these products and services. (We’ll also never be pushy — they’re just there in Marketplace to provide you with choice if you decide to go that way.)
While banks won’t invoice you to step into their branches, the obvious overhead costs are much more so than a branchless bank like Starling (where we aim to offer all your online banking and branch services through the mobile app) — that’s why you may come across many banks that charge for overseas ATM fees, unarranged overdraft fees, and more. Many of our customers have grown accustomed to a complex host of fees, but our profit margins don’t need to be as bulky as traditional banks as we’ve changed our business model to be as balance sheet lite and capital efficient as possible. This is one of the many benefits of being an agile, mobile bank — which can only be better for our customers.