ILQ Investor, Harald McPike, Backs UK Banking Startup Starling with $70M Investment

Starling Bank closes $70 million in funding to help accelerate the digital bank's launch, as it gears up to enter

Alongside the centuries-old banks in the UK is a new crop of digital-only banking startups poised to enter the market. Licensed from the Bank of England last year were Tandem Bank and Atom Bank, with Mondo Bank and Starling Bank aiming to become fully regulated this year.

Among these digital startups, the common denominator is that they have been built from the ground up, and are banking solutions catering to the online and mobile based world. As such, in place of bank branches are multi-feature mobile apps that provide banking solutions as well as other tools focused on personal finance. However, traditional banks have also shown that they are evolving with the times with many firms having created digital brands of their own.

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With the race for digital banking supremacy on, startups are battling their larger banking brethren to both acquire a new generation of customers as well as grab market share from existing account holders seeking innovative approaches to banking. Gaining a larger cash chest for this battle is Starling which has announced that it has raised $70 million from investment manager Harald McPike.

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Founded by CEO Anne Boden, previously the Chief Operating Officer of AlB, Starling will be using the funds to help it enter the UK market and solidify its team as it finalizes its offering and awaits regulatory approval. In addition to the new funds, Starling announced its Board of Director appointments. The board will be chaired by former Standard Bank non-executive director Oliver Stocken, and include Victoria Raffé formerly of the FCA, as well as Marcus Traill and Craig Mawdsley as non-executive directors. The four join Mark Winlow and Steve Colsell who were appointed in 2015.

For McPike, the investment in Starling Bank is his latest in the financial field. Operating the QuantRes group of companies, McPike’s endeavors include algorithmic trading and quantitative investments. A previous investment for McPike was US-regulated online forex broker ILQ for which he also served as a company principal. Operating under the NFA’s jurisdiction, McPike was noted for providing material financing to help ILQ meet minimum capital requirements for operating a forex broker which are higher in the US than anywhere else in the world.

Regarding the investment, Anne Boden stated: “It was important to us to have an investor with not just the financial strength but who also shared our ambition of empowering people with meaningful insight into their own financial information. With his background in algorithmic trading, risk management and technology, Harald sees the significant potential of technology in the retail banking sector. His commitment of $70m is the catalyst needed to propel Starling’s launch.”

Harald McPike, Founder of QuantRes, added: “Starling Bank will provide people with the kind of innovative leaps in their financial lives that they have experienced in transportation and video streaming, so this is an investment opportunity I could not pass up. I share Starling’s vision of creating genuine positive change in peoples’ lives and will enjoy seeing a revolution in the banking experience. Mobile technologies continue to alter fundamentally our lives and expectations of how we manage them, but it seems that traditional banks are not able to adapt fast enough. Anne and her team bring strong capabilities, passion and determination to finally provide people a modern, mobile-first bank.”

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