LONDON — Starling, one of several app-only banks started in the UK in the last few years, is beginning to accept a small number of pilot customers for its new current accounts.
Starling announced on Thursday it is going to start accepting “Beta” users of its app to help test its product, the first product launched by the company. The app will initially only be on iPhone but should hit Android by the end of March. At the time of publication, BI couldn’t find the app on the app store — it’s unclear when it will actually go live.
Users who sign up will get a debit card and be able to monitor and control their spending and account from the app.
CEO and founder Anne Boden said in a release announcing the launch:
“Our vision at Starling is to give everyone in the world the opportunity to enjoy a healthy financial life. Today is another step on that journey. Widening our beta testing programme means we can continue to develop the Starling Account; testing it, getting feedback, improving it, and adding new features over the next few months.”
The Beta testing is the first public product launch from Starling, which was founded in 2014. Boden, a former executive of Allied Irish Bank, raised $US70 million for the startup last January and has been developing the app behind closed doors ever since.
Starling says is app contains features such as an activity feed, the ability to lock cards, and set PIN numbers, as well as biometric security and in-app customer service chat features. Starling also announced this week that it has partnered with TransferWise to offer international money transfer through the app.
Starling is one of a number of high-profile, app-only banks that have set up in the UK over the last 18 months. Rivals include Monzo — which was founded by Starling’s first CTO, who left the company — and Atom. Both launched products last year and have gained significant traction. Tandem, another rival app-only bank, plans to launch its first products imminently.
All bar Atom plan to offer a “financial hub” model, partnering with third-party product and service providers that it will sell through the app and take a cut from. Starling says in its release that it plans to build “a mobile marketplace of services and products.”
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