This week, we at Business News Wales was thrilled to interview Anne Boden, who is a speaker at the 2018 Digital Festival which will be taking place on the 21st & 22nd May at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.
Anne Boden pioneered the UK’s first same-day payment service – and in the process transformed the future of electronic money. Today, that revolutionary zeal continues to inform her work at Starling Bank, the mobile-only current account app she launched earlier this year.
Recently recognised as one of the Global Power Women in FinTech, Anne’s worked at a senior leadership level across some of the world’s best-known financial heavyweights, among them Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland. It was during her tenure as CEO of Allied Irish Banks, however, that she begun to explore the exciting potential of financial technology for transforming customer’s everyday lives.
At heart a tech start up with a banking licence, Starling is a challenger bank built on a foundation of disruptive emerging technology, working to take on traditional legacy banks and help people to develop a healthier relationship with their money.
A: Starling is a completely different kind of bank disrupting the financial services industry. After a 30 year career in banking, including as chief operating officer of Allied Irish Bank, I founded Starling in 2014. Based in London, the bank was granted a banking licence by the Bank of England in July 2016 and launched its first mobile-only retail current account in May 2017 available as a mobile app for both iOS and Android phones. We followed this with the UK’s first digital-only business bank account in March 2018.
Starling accounts can be set up in minutes and offer real-time notifications, spending insights, multiple payment methods (via Apple Pay, Android Pay and Fitbit Pay) and no unauthorised overdraft fees, in addition to traditional functions, such as the ability to set up Direct Debits, standing orders and payments. Customers earn interest on their current accounts and Starling’s in-app Marketplace allows access to a range of financial products, including insurance and pensions.
Q: What is it that attracted you to the Digital Festival?
A: Many exciting innovations are emerging from the Welsh digital scene. I’m keen to learn from the experiences of the entrepreneurs behind them and share some of Starling Bank’s lessons. I grew up in Swansea and graduated from Swansea University, so for me it’s a homecoming of sorts.
Q: Where do you see Wales’ tech scene ten years from now?
A: Nearly £115m of venture capital investment has been injected into tech start-ups in Wales in the past six years, with 92 companies attracting £114.2m of investment since 2012. Whereas the trend a few years ago was for investors to throw money at start-ups, I think that over time money will be increasingly directed to companies at a later stage of their development.
Q: What does entrepreneurship mean to you?
A: It’s all about a determination to make things better and to come up with new solutions and a willingness to take calculated risks
Q: And what one quality does every entrepreneur need to succeed?
A: The ability to expect, no demand, more than is possible. Don’t pare back your expectations, go for the broadest possible offering from the off.
Q: Any advice for anyone in the early stages of, or considering, starting their own business?
A: Success is less about bureaucracy and planning, and more about getting on with it.
Q: What can we expect from your session at Digital Festival?
A: I’ll be speaking about how I broke through bureaucracy and process, as well as in-built suspicion to get Starling funded and off the ground.
Q: What do you predict will be the biggest tech development within the next 10 years?
A: Mobile-only banking will gain ground and become mainstream as people increasingly live their lives on their mobiles and appreciate the convenience it offers.
Q: Lastly, describe Digital Festival in three words.
A: Shaping tomorrow’s world
Q: Bonus: in terms of technology, how is the future linked to human ambition?
A: Humans are hard-wired for innovation. It’s Darwinian. Technology will never stop advancing. Our job is to make sure it does so in sustainable ways that make people’s lives better.