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To help you better understand how we make technology work for both our customers and our partners, here's a detailed look at the technology that enables us to bring our Marketplace partners to your phone.

At Starling we’re changing the face of banking. In addition to providing you with mobile bank accounts for personal or business use, we want you to have access to the best financial products and services, with control, choice and visibility, all from your banking app.

That’s why we built the Starling Marketplace. It’s the space in our app that gives you access to third party financial products and services, from mortgages and pensions to insurance and savings. Since gaining regulatory permissions to introduce you to different financial services providers, we’ve been busy adding partners and today we’re launching Anorak, a smart life insurance adviser. On this note, we’re taking a closer look at our Marketplace, how it works and where we’re going.

The problem we’re solving

So what happens when you want to take out life insurance? Traditionally, you would have to fill in reams of forms to get a life insurance quote and enter your balance, financial history and personal information. But what if this could automatically be done for you and a quote could be generated from this information? And what if we went a few steps further so you wouldn’t have to go into your paper finance folder every time you wanted to review it. What if you could access and manage your insurance, all from within the Starling app? This is exactly what we're doing here at Starling.

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What’s an API?

Access to Marketplace products is possible by virtue of APIs. An API (Application Programming Interface) allows third parties (i.e. Marketplace partners) to access data on behalf of the user in a machine-readable way, provided the user has given that third party consent to access that data.

Next, we introduce OAuth, which is a way of authenticating access to users’ data, such as account and personal information, through the user’s explicit consent. If you’ve ever logged into an app using Facebook, you’ve experienced an OAuth flow.

The Starling public API allows third parties to access Starling users’ accounts and transactional data as long as you, the user, have provided explicit consent. This means that they can view customer data and, in some cases, automate actions on their accounts.

Let’s go back to our life insurance example. The Starling public API allows third parties to pre-populate the forms leading to a quote recommendation. However, allowing users to view their life insurance policy from within Starling requires us to access the same users’ partner data, with their explicit consent. This is done through the third party and is accessed via their API (remember - APIs just allow you to access data on behalf of the user). Essentially, thanks to APIs, we can cut the paperwork and provide you with more seamless access to life insurance.

Marketplace Roadmap

At the moment, our Marketplace partners are curated and the data flows vary amongst partners. We’ve partnered based on two notions; on values - whether they match closely to Starling’s outlook and on Tech - whether they have an API built out or can pull data from our API. Eventually, the goal is to create an open marketplace whereby anyone (provided they’ve passed our Due Diligence) can join to offer their product so that customers have more products to choose from.

We also want partners to subscribe to the two-way data flow. For our life insurance example, after the user goes to the Marketplace and enables the partner, we initiate a two way OAuth flow. This means we fetch the user’s data from the third party if the user approves it. However, this time the life insurer also fetches user data from us, such as balance data and personal information. This speeds up the sign-up on their end and pre-populates fields like name, date of birth, address, and account details, which are required for a life insurance quote and therefore setting up a product. Eventually, we want partners to integrate the Starling API like Anorak and perform a two way data flow.

Starling Bank and Anorak integration

A more dynamic Marketplace

Going forward, we want to expand the data we show in the Marketplace, rather than just show your account balance. We could go further and compare the returns of your investment product with another robo-adviser’s so you could put your money to better use. Or, rather than having to go into a money comparison website, we could tell you from within the Marketplace that you could get a higher savings rate with another provider, as well as the returns you could make if you switched.

In the future, when it gets confusing and there’s lots of savings, investment, mortgage and insurance products, we want to help you filter out the ones you want. If you want a savings product with the highest interest rate or a product with the cheapest credit, we’ll filter these for you so it’s clear and concise. If you value customer service and want a mortgage provider with the best customer service ratings, we can filter this as well. We have a vision of helping customers to make better financial decisions by virtue of having better insight into their finances, and we’re looking to expand this capability into insights for Marketplace as well.

No nonsense on data and fees

So, how do we make money from the Marketplace? Different Marketplace partners have different commercial models and we generally receive a customer acquisition fee or revenue share from the partner when you take out a product with them or use their service via the Marketplace.

The key point with your data is that different partners require different data from you: some may need your transaction data, others may want your balance data. We don't give all partners access to all of your data because they simply don't need it - we work with partners to understand what data of yours they actually require in order to perform the service they’re providing, and then only give them access to those APIs to even have the opportunity to request access to that data of yours. In any case, Starling and our partners will always ask you for your consent to access your data. You can revoke access to your data at any time and instantly:

  • Partners accessing your Starling data - manage and revoke this from within the “manage providers” section of the Starling Marketplace.
  • Starling’s access to partner’s data - manage and revoke this from within the partner app or website.

As a result of creating this platform our goal is to simultaneously reduce prices, create choice and boost quality for customers through competition.

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