Digital business banking arms race heats up

By Ryan Weeks on Wednesday 14 November 2018

Editor's PickDigital Banking

UK fintech darlings TransferWise and Starling Bank have each announced significant upgrades to their business accounts.

Two of the UK’s biggest fintech firms are ramping up their business banking capabilities.

Money transfer giant TransferWise has launched a new debit card for businesses, with digital bank Starling Bank rolling out new partners in its marketplace. Both firms have also announced integrations with accounting software provider Xero.

For TransferWise, the news marks another step towards becoming a fully-fledged banking alternative, after starting life as a straightforward remittance service. The fintech ‘unicorn’ first announced its borderless multi-currency account and pre-paid card offering in April of this year. The firm currently boasts 150,000 business customers.

As of this morning, those customers will get access to a TransferWise Business Mastercard, allowing them to send, spend and save money globally in 45 currencies.

Additionally, the company has hooked up to Xero, allowing accountants and bookkeepers to automatically import transactions from TransferWise into the accounting software.

TransferWise has also launched its open access API. Any business can use the API to integrate the fintech firm’s capabilities into their workflow, free of charge, in turn allowing their customers to utilise TransferWise’s services, such as its international transfers.

Starling Bank has been in the business banking game since March of this year and now has 20,000 business customers to its name. The firm has always prioritised its marketplace tool, both for consumer and business users.

Its business-facing marketplace has today been decked out with several new integrations. Flexible insurtech firm Zego, invoice insurance provider Nimbla, online brokerage site Funding Options and business overdraft platform Growth Street are all now live in the marketplace. The Growth Street integration was first announced in July.  

Like TransferWise, Starling also announced a deep integration with Xero, allowing business customers to link their transactions with the software. The partnership is currently live in closed beta and will be rolled out to all customers in the coming weeks.

“With partners like Xero, Growth Street, Funding Options, Nimbla and Zego, we are now able to offer small businesses the efficiency, flexibility, support and security that can help them thrive. This is what banking should be about, and this is why Starling was founded – to put financial control back into the hands of businesses and consumers,” said Megan Caywood, chief platform officer at Starling Bank.

Starling has repeatedly stated its intention to pursue significant awards from the £775m RBS Alternative Remedies Package, a cash-pot designed to increase competition in the small business banking market. Growth Street’s CEO Greg Carter has previously described the open marketplace model as the key to winning awards from the fund. Although it should be noted that Growth Street too is vying for handouts.


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