Starling Bank is a next-generation bank offering the first mobile-only checking account in the UK. They strive to give customers clarity and control over their money, which they can manage entirely through the Starling Bank app. They are challenging traditional financial institutions by building their bank from scratch and implementing the best technology to provide their customers with an entirely new way to see their money.
Starling’s vision is to provide everyone in the world with the opportunity for a healthy financial life. Slack helps them fulfill this promise. With Slack, Starling has found a way to be responsive to customer needs and cut down the time it takes to comply with the rules and regulations of the banking industry. For example, the operations team uses Slack to coordinate approval through their management portal, an operations and customer support web app that runs their payment queues. All sensitive actions within the portal must be reviewed by one or two people. They’ve piped this process into private Slack channels, where reviewers can see the history of all actions and click an “approve/reject” button. Starling can easily find the history of actions from Slack and share with auditors.
As a bank, we obviously have to make sure that we record an awful lot of information for the auditors and the regulators. Our use of Slack allows us to streamline this information.
Starling also created a multi-function app in Slack called Starbot to help automate their Developer Operations processes. Starbot allows pre-approved users to ask for and receive escalated privileges for an allotted time. That means that if users who normally have very restricted access to the system need to get in to deploy a release or diagnose an issue, Starbot can manage the escalation quickly and efficiently. Starbot also can restart servers and reboot all services in non-production environments.
“Not only have I got great visibility of the reasons people are escalating privileges, which is an audit requirement and must be reviewed periodically, but we have great traceability of what happened when, why, right back to the business reason for each change that may come in,” says Chief Technology Officer Greg Hawkins.
Without Starbot, Starling would have to escalate permissions manually, using management consoles or tools. With two to five releases a day, Starbot easily saves them several hours a day. “The ability to do that all from Starbot is immensely useful for developers,” adds Hawkins. “It’s just become part of our toolbox.”
Editor’s note: This was first published in 2017