Starling withdraws Irish banking licence application in expansion rethink


UK challenger Starling Bank has withdrawn its application for a banking licence in Ireland in a rethink of its global expansion strategy.

Starling CEO Anne Boden

The company had already completed the first phase of its licence application with the Central Bank of Ireland but has now determined the move is “no longer a top priority”.

Starling says it will focus on “other expansion projects” instead, taking its software to banks through its software-as-a-service (SaaS) subsidiary, Engine.

The firm also intends to expand its lending across a range of asset classes, including through targeted mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

Operating a retail bank in the Republic of Ireland as a way into other European Union (EU) markets had “long been a goal” of the company, Starling says.

This strategy was put on hold, however, during the Covid-19 pandemic, but later revived alongside plans for a banking-as-a-service (BaaS) proposition for EU customers.

Starling CEO and founder Anne Boden says: “This was a really tough call to make, particularly as we have had Ireland in our sights for so long. Sometimes changing course is the right option.

“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.”

In April, Starling completed an internal fundraise of £130.5 million at a pre-money valuation of more than £2.5 billion.


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