Starling tells Facebook to get rid of fraudsters if it wants bank’s ads

Challenger bank has boycotted Meta Platforms since last month

The chief executive and founder of challenger bank Starling, Anne Boden, has a blunt new year's message for Meta Platforms: get rid of the fraudsters if you want us to advertise with you again.

Writing in her latest annual letter, Ms Boden, a former chief operating officer of AIB, said London-based Starling, which counts Goldman Sachs among its backers, had ceased advertising on Facebook and Instagram, saying Meta wasn't doing enough to stop scammers from using its platforms.

“We want to protect our customers and our brand integrity,” Ms Boden said in the letter. “And we can no longer pay to advertise on a platform alongside scammers who are going after the savings of our customers and those of other banks.”

Starling’s advertising boycott of Meta began in mid-December, according to a spokeswoman for the bank. Last year, the bank achieved unicorn status after Goldman Sachs and other investors put more than £300 million (€360 million) into the lender, valuing it in excess of £1.1 billion.

Starling has been in talks with the Central Bank of Ireland on securing a banking licence that will allow it to expand in the Republic and other markets.

Prolific user

The digital-only bank has been a prolific user of social-media platforms to advertise its services, and until late 2020 had been spending hundreds of thousands of pounds a month to advertise on Meta’s main platforms, according to the spokeswoman. That spending dwindled in the past 12 months before the decision was made to cease all Facebook and Instagram advertising.

In her letter, Ms Boden said Starling had been pushing for big tech companies to clamp down on fraudsters' use of the services. She pointed to Google's decision in August to stop accepting any financial services advertising unless the advertiser could prove they had been authorised by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, or met one of a limited number of exemptions.

"Facebook (Meta) indicated in December that it will be doing something similar to Google to stop fraudsters advertising on its platform," Ms Boden said. "We are still waiting to find out when and how this initiative (from TechUK's Online Fraud Steering Group) will happen."

Despite its paid advertising boycott, Starling is keeping its Facebook and Instagram accounts.

A spokesman for Meta declined to comment. – Bloomberg