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Starling Bank withdraws from European license application

Starling Bank, the UK-based digital bank founded and led by Anne Boden, has pulled its plans to operate under an Irish banking license.

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Starling applied for an Irish banking license back in 2019. Ireland was set to be its first foray into international expansion, itself part of wider plans to create a pan-European digital bank.

The major development, first reported by Sky News, comes from a memo Boden sent to Starling’s c.2000 staff members yesterday. 

In the memo, she says that focusing on a different strategy would deliver a better return. 

“Sometimes changing course is the right option,” she wrote in the memo.

“My job as CEO is to constantly test our thinking against evolving circumstances and to make sure that we are delivering value and maximising potential for growth. Ultimately, we felt that an Irish subsidiary would not deliver the added value we are seeking,” she added.

The news will come as a blow to consumers in Ireland, as the Irish banking market prepares to lose two of the five main retail banks, Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland.

Starling already had a small team of around six people working on the ground here, preparing the way for the expansion.

The digital bank is now eying to expand offering software-as-a-service (SaaS) to banks, aiming at their digital transformation strategies.

In addition, it has plans to explore new areas of lending like using surplus assets for acquiring mortgage asset portfolios.

“We’ll now be focusing on taking our software to banks around the globe through our Software as a Service subsidiary, Engine and by expanding our lending across a range of asset classes, including through targeted M&A activity,” Boden added.

Jan Cerny
Jan is an innovation enthusiast and Fintech news reporter. He specializes in news distribution, social media, and content analysis.

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