Starling’s online banking rollout increases growth potential

  • Starling launched an online portal for personal and joint account holders, joining the small rank of its peers offering online banking.
  • And online banking could extend customer lifetime value for Starling, by enabling functionality that mobile is poorly equipped to handle.
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The UK-based neobank launched online banking for personal and joint account holders, its first foray into a non-mobile channel for personal account holders, per AltFi.

reasons UK digital bank users feel negative about their banks

Starling Bank launched an online portal for personal and joint account holders.

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The launch follows the release of Starling’s online banking portal for SMB customers last fall. The pitch at the time was that online access would help businesses manage more complex finances, like setting up recurring payments and exporting statements. It was also a requirement of the £100 million ($127.6 million) that Starling received from the UK’s Banking Competition Remedies fund last year. 

Online banking is a hole that neobanks must fill to deepen relationships and grow their customer bases.

  • Top neobanks emphasize mobile banking, but features and functionality fall short of customer expectations. Apps are a source of negative sentiment for 15% of UK digital bank customers polled by BrandsEye and Finder, making it the survey’s second-most cited source of frustration—a bad sign for neobanks, given that apps are the main platform through which to interact with customers. In fact, leading UK neobanks have largely neglected alternatives to mobile: Revolut doesn’t offer online banking at all, while Monzo and Monese offer only stripped-down versions of their apps online. 
  • Starling promises features that are available on mobile, blown up to size for the desktop, but early functionality isn’t on par with the app. Debut online banking features include Starling’s marquee, though highly commoditized, spending insights and card controls. But it excludes app-only features like account opening, international payments, and overdraft and loan applications.

Online banking could extend customer lifetime value for neobanks by enabling complex functionality that mobile is poorly equipped to handle. As neobanks look to expand their product lineups beyond basic checking and savings accounts and into selling products like mortgages, their customer interfaces will need to keep up.

Mobile-first banks targeting millennials and Gen Z hit a hurdle when that demographic’s finances get more complex than a small number of basic financial products: Those consumers will have vastly more products and financial milestones to keep track of that would be better presented in a comprehensive dashboard. That format doesn’t fit on a smartphone screen. Neobank growth is in part incumbent upon customers’ evolving needs for more complex financial products. And before neobanks can offer those products, customers need a way to administer them.

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