Starling Bank’s chief executive Anne Boden has said that the challenger bank is now well-placed to buy another lender, and eschewed the need for tech visas because there is plenty of talent already in the UK.
The challenger bank, which has funding partnerships with peer-to-peer lenders Funding Circle and Zopa, announced earlier today that it has received a £50m equity investment from Goldman Sachs.
Speaking at UK Fintech Week, Boden said that the bank is probably going to buy a lending business as it now has the capability to do so.
“We have £6bn worth of customer deposits and now have the capabilities to buy a lending business in order to get more lending out there into the economy so that’s probably one of the next challenges for us,” she said.
Boden also responded to the government’s reforms to the visa system, which were unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at UK Fintech Week. The new measures include a ‘scale up’ visa stream allowing skilled people with a job offer at a recognised UK scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa without sponsorship or third-party endorsement.
Boden said that there is already plenty of talent on “our doorstep” and Starling Bank is tapping into this with offices in London, Southampton, Cardiff and Dublin.
“I think the fintech industry as a whole keeps going on about the need for visas,” she said.
“We’ve never needed visas to import talent, we have great talent up and down the country.
“We don’t need to go on about visas, it’s about taking people on our doorsteps and bringing them into organisations like ourselves and taking that commitment seriously.
“We continued to grow and hired about 400 people during the pandemic. The UK is an world expert in fintech, we have great skills on our doorstep we can actually trade up.”
Starling Bank has participated in the government’s emergency loan schemes, having deployed over £358m under the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) and just over £1bn in bounce back loans as of November 2020. It also funded £300m of CBILS loans via Funding Circle’s platform.
“The next challenge for the future is making sure these businesses will survive and the early indicators are more businesses will survive and thrive than we thought a year ago, so I’m very positive for the future,” Boden said.
“We are in a fantastic position in the UK, we have a thriving fintech industry and are really proud being part of an industry doing the right thing by its customers, whether retail or small- and medium-sized enterprises.
“We have a thriving industry in the UK and need to support it and take it to the next level and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”