This makes it super-easy to integrate your bank with thousands of other online services, even if you're not a programmer.
Even if it is a little unofficial.
Are these "Challenger Banks" any good?
You may have heard the term 'challenger bank' in recent years, it means new small banks that compete directly with the longer-established banks.
And, there's a good reason for it. 'Traditional banks' have become stagnant and disconnected from what their patrons need.
This leads to losing customers, and eventually losing their profits too.
But why would I care about the banks profits? I hear you ask.
If the banks are making a healthy, but not super excessive, profit from their services to you (like leveraging capital, loans and credit etc), they'll stay focused on your experience, and provide competitive interest rates to keep you from going elsewhere.
When there's healthy competition from many banks - not just a few banks at the top - profits can help keep the banks focused on providing a good banking service.
Partly thanks to Mastercard, and a changing financial environment, there's now a few more modern-banking alternatives to the big high street banks.
These alternatives, from a customer point of view, are "just an app" and a debit card.
Challenger Bank Key Points:
- They're well-made, fast with live transaction info and have modern money management and saving features built in.</p>
- There's no stores to trek to, tedious call-centres, bureaucracy or old-fashioned delays, charges or international currency restrictions.
You may have heard of Monzo Bank arguably the biggest small challenger-bank - but in my opinion - there's a much better alternative.
For the cost of sacrificing a few fancy features, you can get a real banking-backed base of stability from old-school (...experienced) bankers but with that modern customer-focused vision.
Best of both worlds? Close enough for me.
Why Starling Bank?
The Starling Bank app is great, but better yet, it's simple.
So what actually is IFTTT and Zapier then?
Zapier and "If This, Then That" are plug-and-play integrations for users to connect their services/apps together to automate stuff.
IFTTT is free, the app developers pay to connect with it for the benefit of their users.
Zapier is the opposite, the user pays to connect apps personally, the app developers can join the Zapier system for free.
Essentially, you don't need to wait for your favorite Project Management app, or calendar app to integrate itself into your favorite, but slightly neache, note taking app.
When both apps connect with IFTTT or Zapier - you can connect them however you like in just a couple of clicks.
? Do you want the smart lights in the living room to flash red when you go overdrawn or below budget, or, perhaps, you'd like to automatically categorize a new bill on a spreadsheet when it leaves the bank?
Of course you do... and it only takes a few mins to setup when both systems work with IFTTT or the beefier-cousin Zapier. ?
Great for Nerds, life-changing for Business. ?
Monzo does it, and now we can make Starling do it too.
Right off-the-bat Monzo Bank made the great decision to integrate with IFTTT for its users in the early days. It's a great way to attract new customers looking to save some time and automate whatever banking tasks they need.
However, the Monzo app is feature-busy and I'm a firm believer of KISS.
This coupled with the simplicity and stability of Starling Bank, and Starling offering a Business account too, I'd much rather use Starling with Zapier instead.
Starling may not officially support IFTTT or Zapier just yet, but there's now a super-smooth workaround I spotted the other day. (I've not come across this elsewhere just yet, so let me know if you've spotted this workaround in the wild before!)
You can connect a Starling Bank account, Personal Account, Joint Account, Foreign Currency Account & Business Accounts, directly to Zapier fully featured, and connect to IFTTT with basic functionality.
No programming, no servers and no middle-man services needed either.
Webhooks - Great for Banking
Starling has an full open API - which allows a developer to build private apps, and even launch them on the Starling Bank Marketplace (their add-on store for your bank account) and the best part, they now have the simpler Webhooks.
Webhooks are great for connecting banks to integration platforms like Zapier & IFTTT because they are inherently secure (read-only)...
When the bank sends out a wehbook, it just sends data to where you point it, that service has no way of sending data back like a full API with permissions.
So your money is safe in Starling, even if Zapier or IFTTT end up getting compromised! ??
How to connect Starling Bank to Zapier and IFTTT
Time needed: 20 minutes.
Connect your Starling Bank account to a Webhook (Zapier or IFTTT) via a Starling Developer Account.
- Create a Starling Bank Developer Account
Head over to https://developer.starlingbank.com/
They make you confirm your email address and setup Two-Factor Authentication with something like Google Authenticator app or 1Password.
Don't worry, you don't need to do anything complicated with the account or API.
- Link your Starling Developer Account to your Starling Bank Account
In your Starling Bank app, under "Marketplace", click the 3 dot menu and choose "Link Developer Account" - scan the QR code from your account in Step 1.
Congrats, you're linked.
- Grab your webhook URL from Zapier or IFTTT
Zapier - fully featured: Create a new 'Zap', choose the trigger of Webhook & Catch Hook - this will give you a private Zapier webhook URL.
IFTTT - basic functionality: Create a new 'Applet', choose Webhook for "This". They provide your Webhook URL in the docs.
- Setup webhook on Starling Bank Developer Account under "Personal Access"
Tick all the types of transaction you'd like to send to your new Webhook URL.
- Test the Webhook
Make a transaction on Starling, and after a few moment you should see a bunch of info about the new transaction come in to your Zapier or IFTTT Webhook.
- Integrate with something!
Add another step to your Zap or Applet - whatever you want to do with the transaction info.
and... you're done. ?
A good one to get started with is a Google Sheet, just dump the transactions in there to see it working as a Proof-Of-Concept.
I find this super handy for setting-up budget alerts from YNAB with Twilio sending out a text, and for automating business bookkeeping and banking admin tasks.
If you got any questions feel free to send me a tweet and I'll do my best to help! :)