Thursday 16 March 2017 11:00 am

Digital challenger Starling Bank is launching in beta

A digital challenger bank founded by a former banker is a step closer to launch today.

Starling bank's current account will now be available for anyone who wants to sign up to its beta testing programme.

“Our vision at Starling is to give everyone in the world the opportunity to enjoy a healthy financial life. Today is another step on that journey," said founder and chief executive Anne Boden, a former chief operating officer at allied Irish Bank.

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"Widening our beta testing programme means we can continue to develop the Starling Account; testing it, getting feedback, improving it, and adding new features over the next few months."

The bank account will be available on Apple's iPhones initially with a version for Android coming at the end of March, and it plans to sync the app with their digital wallets, Apple Pay and Android Pay, in future.

The account will include a Mastercard, overdraft facility, direct debits and transfers, with innovative features such as a real-time feed of transactions, biometric security with facial recognition, as well as live chat access to customer service.

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The fintech startup will also roll out further features for beta users down the line, including budgeting and spending insight and access to other services provided by third parties. Just yesterday it announced a partnership with fellow fintech startup Transferwise to bring money transfer services to the banking app this summer.

The digital challenger bank race is hotting up as Starling is one of several working towards a launch in the coming months.