The importance of competition

16th August 2018

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Britain’s retail banking system is undergoing a profound change thanks to the rise of a new generation of digital challenger banks, which have injected a healthy dose of competition into a market that had grown complacent and stale.

App-only banks such as Starling are raising the bar for customer satisfaction across the entire industry by designing products around customer needs. Thanks to our focus on how people actually want to do their banking, the way that all banks treat their customers is now increasingly regarded as a vital benchmark.

The regulators are well aware of this and of new expectations around customer service. This week the Competition and Markets Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority are requiring banks to publish information on how easy they make it for customers to interact with them. As a mobile-only bank offering round the clock customer support through the app and by phone, Starling is proud to publish its data below.

Personal account service information

Business account service information

Adam Land, Senior Director at the CMA, has said he hopes the information, together with a requirement for the bigger banks to publish customer satisfaction scores, will make it easier for people to judge whether they are with the best bank for them.

“For the first time, people will now be able to easily compare banks on the quality of the service they provide, and so judge if they’re getting the most for their money or could do better elsewhere,” he says.

As a new challenger bank Starling has not yet reached the threshold for publishing customer satisfaction scores, but with a user base growing at a rate of 20 per cent a month, we soon will be.

We can say with confidence that Britain’s challenger banks are outperforming incumbents when it comes to overall customer satisfaction. A survey this year from leading financial services technology provider Fidelity National Information Services, better known as FIS, found that in Britain 76 per cent of digital-first direct bank customers are ‘very satisfied’ with their banking relationships, compared to 69 per cent of those who bank with one of the top 50 global banks.

Similarly, app-only banks took the top spots in this Smart Money People’s Best British Bank awards for 2018, knocking the traditional incumbents off the top spots. Starling took the top place in the poll of 24,000 UK consumers. The UK Institute of Customer Service, meanwhile, recently found that customers who use an app to interact with their bank show high levels of customer satisfaction with a score of 83.4%.

We’re hoping to take these numbers even higher as app-only banking grows and competition expands. Nearly 22 million people in the UK regularly used banking apps during 2017 – a 12 per cent rise on the previous year, according to figures from UKFinance and EY.

As the sector grows and as we add more customers, we will guard against complacency and be driven by a determination to do better by our customers every day and to listen to and respond to them.

All of this matters. Money is a source of stress for most people, even those with lots of it. That’s why the Starling app has been built as a hub for our customers’ money, where they can visualise and manage all of their finances one place in real time.

By creating an intuitive user interface that is a delight to use, Starling hopes to remove some of the stress and anxiety of managing money and to help customers of its personal and business accounts have a better and more comfortable relationship with their finances.

And by enabling customers to contact us 24/7, rather than just during branch opening hours (we don’t have branches!), we are adding that all-important human touch we know our customers value.

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