UK-based neobank Starling added three new integrations to its Starling Marketplace for small- and medium-sized business (SMB) customers, Verdict reports. The marketplace acts as an app store, offering access to a variety of third-party business services. The latest additions bring the number of integrations to 26, and give SMB customers access to workplace messenger Slack, energy-switching service Bionic, and health insurance provider Equipsme.

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Growing its marketplace complements the work Starling has been doing to build SMB relationships since fallout from the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK economy.

  • Starling’s quick moves to support SMBs during the crisis have resulted in strong customer acquisition. The neobank became accredited under the UK’s two government-backed loan relief programs — the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme — in April, shortly after they were launched. Through the latter program alone, Starling lent £90 million ($113 million) the first day and a half of the program launching. It also raised £40 million ($49 million) earlier this month, which will go in part toward further aiding SMBs impacted by the pandemic. This strong show of support for SMBs in their time of need appears to be paying off for Starling in terms of customer acquisition: Its SMB user base grew from 90,000 in February to 177,000 in June. 
  • Starling’s robust marketplace could be another effective customer acquisition tool. The marketplace model is relatively common in the neobank space — Starling competitors Monzo, N26, and Revolut all offer them — as it allows neobanks to diversify revenue by monetizing financial data and earning commission, expand their user bases, and quickly boost product suites without incurring development costs. By further expanding the integrations on its marketplace — last February, it said it planned to add 48 new partners over the next three years — Starling could tie its SMB customers even more closely to its platform and ensure they stick around even once the crisis abates. And continuing to build out its marketplace with relevant integrations could attract new customers: Many SMBs that are still operating remotely would likely be interested in adopting a platform like Slack, while existing users could welcome the ability to access their SMB account information through Slack, where they’re already communicating about their business. 

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