From helping to architect the UK's first real-time payments system — the Clearing House Automated Payment System — to founding the digital challenger bank Starling, Anne Boden, MBE, has been at the forefront of innovation in finance throughout her career.
"Before Starling, banking hadn’t really changed in the 30 years I worked in the sector, and this frustrated me, so I decided I would change it,” Boden says.
The UK’s challenger banks were established after the financial crisis to compete with long-established incumbent retail banks. Starling, which was founded in 2014 and received its banking licence in 2016, has no brick-and-mortar branches. Customers access its services via an app, and have since 2019 been able to deposit cash in person at the post office.
More recently, under Boden’s leadership, the mobile-only bank has responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic. In April it launched the Connected Card, a secure secondary debit card, controlled by the app, for people who are self-isolating and need others to do their shopping. The card has its own PIN as well as blocks to stop online purchases while enabling brick-and-mortar spending. Another innovation was the launch of cheque imaging during lockdown, a way to process cheques using the app rather than sending them in by post.
Boden, a Welsh national and former senior executive at RBS and other banks, was in 2018 awarded a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her services to financial technology. She is an advocate of promoting female leaders in finance, which she says directly correlates to the increased success of companies.
"At Starling, we operate at the axis of two traditionally male-dominated professions, banking and technology,” she says. “I’m a computer scientist by training, and I hope I can help break down stereotypes about who can do different kinds of jobs."