As a student, I am always looking for ways to save money. Unsurprisingly, when you first leave home and move away, given a large sum of taxpayers money in the for
m of a student loan and are lumbered with the responsibilities of buying your own food and books. Add this to the student culture of going out drinking, which is cripplingly expensive.
As a Digital Marketing Student, I am interested in all aspects of commercial technology. I am an avid lister of a podcast called FinTech Insider. It is an audio podcast that discusses the new and exciting Financial Technology that is up and coming on the horizon. There are some very interesting things happening in the world of money and FinTech, the internet and Smartphones are changing the way we use and think about money.
It is unlikely that we will still be using cash the way we do in the next 20 years, with the rise of free P2P (peer-to-peer) payments being made available by most big companies nowadays. There are now P2P payment options through Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba and of course PayPal, who was the first major P2P payment system, started by a group called the PayPal Mafia, who then splintered and went on to build companies like LinkedIn, YouTube, SpaceX and Tesla.
A few months back, I was listening to an episode of FinTech insider called ‘Starling Takeover’, I assumed they had misspelt the name to a company called Sterling, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was an episode that was completely dedicated to a small, London based Start-Up company called Starling Bank. They are not a Bank who give out Mortgages, High-Interest Loans, Credit Cards or other products that you would expect from the big banks like HSBC, Barclays or Santander. They are simply a bank that only concentrates on being a current account, but aims to be the best that a current account can be.
What I really like about them
I once read a statistic that over 80% of revenue collected by JP Morgan’s commercial bank, is from Fees and Penalties, such as overdraft, credit card fees and late payment fees. This means that they have set up their business to trap their customers into paying fees, encouraging them to spend their money so they are given a reason to charge them. By reading up on Starling, I could see that this type of business practice is exactly the type of thing they want to stop, they want to encourage their customers to save their money, not spend it.
The App UI
My Student account is with HSBC, and their app is, to be honest, horrific. It’s slow, unresponsive and looks very old fashioned and generally outdated. To view your balance you need to put in a password just to see it and to send money from it I need to log into online banking on my PC. You can’t search for specific merchants, to find a transaction from months ago you have to scroll down the list, there is not partition by month. Using the HSBC app feels very long-winded, but accessing your money shouldn’t be such a hassle.
To compare this with Starling, I can honestly say that it is one of the nicest applications that I have on my phone. The user interface and colour scheme are very clear and easy to use. You can sort your transaction by Merchant or Sector, for example, if I had spent £10 at Sainsburys and £5 at McDonald’s, it would show me that I had spent £10 on groceries and £5 on eating out, so you can look at the end of the month about where you have spent your money and which areas you can cut back on. It also splits your transactions up by month, so finding a particular transaction is very easy.
It is easy to occasionally mismanage your finances, forgetting to pay yourself and leaving money in the wrong account. If you only have a few pounds in your current account and over £1.7k in your ISA and during this month Amazon Prime charge you a membership fee. Although I had the money within a Santander, Barclays or other big bank Account, and they were fully aware that the Amazon Prime charge was upcoming, they had intentionally set up their rules so that you wouldn’t be warned that you whereas about to dive £60 overdrawn. All it would have taken was a text message or an email to tell you, but it was not in the interest of the bank (no oun intended).
Starling sends you a notification every time that you use your card, it will tell you the amount and the merchant as soon as you use your card, provided that it is connected to the internet. You will also get notifications when your balance is getting low so that you remember to pay yourself and don’t get hit with unexpected overdraft fees.
There are so many more benefits to banking with this company. A few more are bullet-pointed below.
- Can be used with Android/Apple Pay
- No charges for using your card abroad
- Partners with other apps to which will create a hi-tech banking ecosystem.
- Exceptional Customer Service
- Lock your card instantly if you have lost it if you find it again you can simply unlock it.
I have been with three of the big banks in the past, and I can say that my experience with Starling is by far the most pleasurable, 10/10 from me, keep it up!
If you are interested in joining Starling Bank after reading this, please click this link.