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Starling to move into business banking

Digital challenger bank Starling is to open a mobile-only business account for small traders and SMEs.

The startup, which launched its retail current account service in April, is promising to best the traditional branch-based services of the UK’s biggest banks with a streamlined account offering that will take just five minutes to set up.

Services offered will include linked invoicing and accounting services and real-time international payments.

Starling’s pitch to businesses comes amid a broad-based push by UK authorities to encourage more competition in the business banking market and loosen the stranglehold of the country’s four largest lenders, who currently preside over 85% of current accounts and 90% of business loans.

Starling has opened a waiting list on its Website and will invite applicants to join a closed user pilot by the end of the year.

It is not the only challenger trying to lure UK SMEs away from traditional lenders. Tide, a UK-based mobile-first SME banking service, in July raised $14m in one of the largest Series A investment rounds closed by a fintech company this year. Founded by former RBS/Worldpay head of innovation George Bevis, Tide launched in January after raising more than $2m in funding in 2016.

Money transfer startups Revolut and TransferWise have also recently unveiled plans to open payment accounts for UK business owners.

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