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Starling CEO sounds the alarm about bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies

Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank, speaks at the Web Summit 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Harry Murphy | Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

LONDON – Anne Boden, the CEO of British fintech start-up Starling, is concerned about cryptocurrencies.

Some digital currency exchanges are “quite dangerous,” Boden said, adding the financial industry should remain vigilant about fraud in the unregulated crypto market.

It comes after Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, was banned from conducting regulated activities in the UK by the country’s financial services watchdog.

“The industry as a whole needs to be really vigilant about the dangers of people using Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to process fraudulent payments,” Boden told reporters on a call on Thursday.

Founded in 2014, Starling is one of the UK’s best-known challenger banks, a new generation of lenders looking to stir up the market with online-only checking accounts. Rivals are Monzo, Revolut and Monese.

On Thursday, Starling reported a 600% jump in sales in the 16 months to 2021, which helped the bank more than halve its losses.

Starling is now well on its way to posting its first annual profit in 2022, Boden said, adding that the company could go public in late next year or early 2023.

Britcoin?

Despite her cautious stance on crypto, Boden said she believes digital currencies have a future.

“Certain digital currencies are interesting (but) our customers don’t ask for this service,” said Boden.

“In 2-3 years, things will have changed and most banks, including Starling, will be preparing for very interesting things in these areas,” she added.

Starling is closely following investigations by the Bank of England into whether to issue a digital version of the British pound, Boden said.

The BOE is one of several global central banks researching their own digital currencies. China is leading the way, testing its digital yuan with millions of people.

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