Starling will no longer advertise on Facebook

UK challenger bank Starling has announced that it has stopped all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

In a company statement last week, the bank’s chief executive Anne Boden said that Starling could no longer pay to “advertise on a platform alongside scammers” that are going after the savings of its customers.

“I have repeatedly called out the BigTech and social media giants for allowing financial fraudsters to advertise and post content on their platforms that result every day in people being scammed out of their savings,” wrote Boden.

She said that many others share her view, including MoneySavingExpert, Which?, UK Finance – which represents nearly 300 financial services firms in the UK – and individual MPs.

The chief exec praised Google, which in August last year stopped accepting financial services ads unless the advertiser could demonstrate that they are authorised by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

“This represents a welcome, if long-overdue, step forward,” she said in response the move by Google. “We’ve been urging other platforms to follow suit and have campaigned doggedly this year to get financial and economic crime included in the forthcoming Online Harms Bill, which I see has been renamed the Online Safety Bill without any apparent hint of irony. It cannot be right that these platforms profit from crime and yet remain beyond the reach of law.

“Facebook (Meta) indicated in December that it will be doing something similar to Google to stop fraudsters advertising on its platform. This is good news. We are still waiting to find out when and how this initiative (from TechUK’s Online Fraud Steering Group) will happen. In the meantime, we’ve stopped all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram.”

Facebook’s metaverse

Anne Boden said that while Facebook’s metaverse is predicted to be the key driver of the growth of finance and DeFi (Decentralised Finance) in the 2020s and beyond, she believes this is “likely to be both wrong and right”.

“Just look at how many “predictions” from the world of science fiction movies have come true; video phones and robot helpers in the home are now a reality, although they look very different to their fantasy versions of 50+ years ago,” she said. “I also recall the time in 2006 when at least one big bank decided to open a branch in Second Life in its search for “the best way to establish personal contact with customers.”

She added: “Fast forward a few years and see how much simpler it proved to be to provide 24/7 human contact via an app.

“While Facebook (Meta) may hold out all sorts of promises for the future, I really hope its focus on the Metaverse doesn’t become a distraction from doing what is right today, here and now in the UK of 2022.”

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