On Tuesday the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) published the final report of its market investigation into Retail Banking. The report announced reforms to ensure customers get “a better deal” from their banks. Among the measures was a strong commitment to improving account opening and switching processes. As the Product Lead for customer acquisition at Starling, the “first mile” of our customers’ product experience is my top priority and we’re naturally ecstatic that the changes announced support our vision at Starling.
We believe it should be as easy as possible to apply for a new bank account – it should only take a matter of minutes and be possible to apply from anywhere, at any time (at first, Starling will only be able to open current accounts for UK residents). We will achieve much of this through user experience and carefully applied interaction design but by also applying innovative approaches to ticking the regulatory boxes we are breaking new ground.
“Know your customer” (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) checks mean we need to be sure that customers applying for an account are not intending to use the account for fraudulent activities and that they are who they say they are. This is the part where, as a customer, you might have previously had to scramble to find a utility bill to provide proof of your address and go in branch (yes, in branch) to open an account.
At Starling, we are using the latest technology to scan some ID documentation such as your driving licence or passport. We can even read the chip on your passport accessing information contained to verify the document and your application. We then ask our customers to take a selfie and use facial recognition technology to compare the image of your face to the photo obtained from your passport or UK driver’s licence. We are then able to leverage electronic data sources such as the electoral roll to match your full name with your date of birth or registered address.
But, we are now in a new era where the digitisation of processes isn’t enough. ‘Banks need to work harder for customers’, not least to encourage competition and alternatives for them as the report says, but to respond to their needs and expectations.
At Starling, we believe that we shoulder a responsibility to guide customers towards financial well-being by providing everyday banking insights.
Starling will offer core banking services – deposits, faster payments, transfers and overdrafts – everything you’d expect from a bank.
We’ll empower customers to understand their spending habits and take control of their financial well-being by providing easy to understand real-time spend visualisations and predictive insights.
We’ll send real-time alerts to notify you when an expected payment has occurred or when you’re going into your overdraft.
But despite the huge differences in service offering, “Why would I switch?” was an all too common sentiment in our customer research, and it’s easy to see why. Banks have been traditionally coy when it comes to clearly communicating to their customers their pricing (what they’re being charged for and when) and so the financial benefits of switching are often unclear.
The CMA found that personal current account holders, overdraft users in particular, could make significant savings by switching their current account, but the inertia was attributed to a lack of visibility and information. This is where Starling Bank clearly differentiate. We won’t apply overdraft usage or unauthorised overdraft fees. That means, as the CMA suggests, overdraft users could make significant savings by switching their current account to Starling. – more to follow on this in tomorrow’s blog.
We also recognised that despite market choice, the possibility of switching can seem impossible. We are pleased to announce that we will provide the Current Account Switch Service (CASS), which makes it easy for customers to switch from one bank to another within a guaranteed 7 days. Additionally, we have a dedicated team that is responsible for making it easier for customers with existing overdrafts (whether you’re using it or not) to switch by removing the uncertainty of whether they would be able to obtain an overdraft with Starling.
As one of the first mobile only entrants to CASS, Starling are also excited to be able to push the boundaries of this service further by making switching hassle-free. Starling customers will be able to request to switch in under 2 minutes by using our app, which will initiate a fully automated switch of their salary and direct debits. Customers will also benefit from receiving regular progress notifications sent direct to their mobile.
If what we’re doing at Starling has caught your attention. Join our waitlist for your opportunity to open a Starling Bank current account.
You can read the full CMA Report here.