Beware Starling Bank (UK)

I have a business account with Starling Bank and have done for several years. We even pay for extra services from Starling to file VAT etc. Our business has accepted crypto for several years which gets transferred to wallets, exchanged for fiat etc – the usual. Everything has always been fine. We’ve reported truthfully and openly to Companies House, HMRC etc about our assets. We pay our taxes and never try to avoid.

On Friday I sold some our digital assets for fiat via P2P in Binance. All went through fine but this was the first time I used P2P.

Saturday morning we get message from our bank that as “a last resort” our account has been restricted because of a unusual activity. Not in any of the years have we had queries on our business activity. They have listed just one payment of only £150 (less than 10% of what I sold). Our turnover is +£150k so this is >0.001% of that.

This has meant no access to our business account. We replied within 10 minutes that we expected the payments and we sold some digital assets – there’s screenshots of the activity attached to the payments as soon as they arrive so I can do Corporation Tax and VAT filings so they can see it all. Crypto is not illegal in the UK, this is a flex from Starling with zero Customer Service even though we’re business customers. I’ve asked which T&C they are using for this action and what other methods they have tried to contact us before this action but no reply.

I’ve sent 6 messages (they won’t talk on the phone) and there has been no reply. I can see our balance but I can’t move money out of it. Starling have put our business to ransom with no ransom note.

We’ve only had just this one message from Starling about the restriction, no warning, no indication something might be up. No miss calls from any of the phones and we can’t get a reply out of them. Included in the message (which I think was just a copy paste BS they use for personal customers) was warnings of being a money mule like we’re some sort of student with a bank account for the first time. The link warns we might not be able to get mobile phone contracts, student loans etc… They must know we’re a business account. We process thousands per month via them.

Up until yesterday I would have recommended Starling as a business bank but this is a flex we didn’t expect. We have even just recently opened another account with Starling for a Community Interest Company (CIC) we set up. That has zero £ in it at the moment as we’re still setting up the business. At first I assumed the restriction is probably some mistake but no attempt to fix it or contact us has been made.

So be warned. Do not use Starling for anything, especially crypto. There are other recent warnings around the web about Starling and crypto so I’m adding mine to it. They are pretending to be different to high street banks but they are not. Worse because they avoid all speak on crypto like they don’t have a stance but they obviously do (anti).

Our counter move: We’ve just opened a business account with []( (one off fee £16, reviews seem ok and I see them talked about in the crypto world as trustworthy). No money will be going to Starling again (except what I can’t stop already on the way). This action stopped our weekend trading.

On the plus side, it has made us double down to crypto, it’s the future. UK banks can’t be trusted. Believe it or not I trust binance with our assets more right now than I do UK banks.

TLDR: Startling restricted our business account without warning. Do not use for anything.

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  1. Tell them in writing (email or secure message on their portal is fine) that you are lodging an official complaint with them over your treatment and lack of answers, and tell them you’ll be referring the matter to the Ombudsman if they don’t answer you with a satisfactory explanation. The FOS won’t accept your complaint until 8 weeks has passed from lodging a complaint with Starling, but as soon as you mention that one little word “ombudsman”, they will have to take you seriously, and they will.

Mixed Feelings