Starling Bank is plotting further merger and acquisition (M&A) activity focusing on selected lending originators in the year ahead.
In an annual letter, Anne Boden, founder and chief executive of Starling Bank, said that after purchasing Fleet Mortgages in a £50m cash and share deal in July last year, the bank plans to expand its lending capabilities through further M&A activity and forward flow arrangements.
She said Starling Bank also plans to launch a software as a service proposition to offer its partners the ability to use its technology as its own.
“We also plan a continued expansion of our lending,” Boden said.
“Expect a mix of strategic forward flow arrangements, organic lending across various asset classes and a targeted M&A strategy focusing on selected lending originators.”
The letter also revealed that the challenger bank has stopped paid advertising on social media giants that have not cracked down on fraudsters.
Boden said she has repeatedly called out the big tech and social media giants for allowing financial fraudsters to advertise and post content on their platforms that “result every day in people being scammed out of their savings”.
She welcomed the news that last summer Google UK stopped accepting financial services advertisements unless the advertiser could demonstrate that they are authorised by the City regulator or unless they qualified for certain limited exemptions.
Boden said she has urged other platforms to follow suit and campaigned for financial and economic crime to be included in the Online Safety Bill.
She said Starling Bank has stopped all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram while waiting for them to implement a similar crackdown on fraudsters that Google UK did.
“It cannot be right that these platforms profit from crime and yet remain beyond the reach of law,” Boden said.
“Facebook (Meta) indicated in December that it will be doing something similar to Google to stop fraudsters advertising on its platform. This is good news.
“We are still waiting to find out when and how this initiative (from TechUK’s Online Fraud Steering Group) will happen. In the meantime, we’ve stopped all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
“We want to protect our customers and our brand integrity. And we can no longer pay to advertise on a platform alongside scammers who are going after the savings of our customers and those of other banks.
“When I read that Facebook’s next big project, the Metaverse, is predicted to be the key driver of the growth of finance and DeFi (decentralised finance) in the 2020s and beyond, I know that this is likely to be both wrong and right.”