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July 30, 2018updated 24 Jan 2022 7:46am

Starling Bank’s vertical card: flipping it on its head

By Patrick Brusnahan

Starling Bank’s vertical card has launched. The digital-only bank has flipped its debit card on its head to reflect the way that consumers interact with their cards at checkout counters and ATMs. Briony Richer reports

Landscape cards made sense in the past with the way old card machines worked but the mobile-only bank insists that it’s time to move on from that onto the vertical Starling card.

The design

Starling Bank’s vertical card design has moved away from its trademark purple to a light teal. The bank has stated that the colour was inspired by the ‘blue-green’ tones of the starling bird.

The colours chosen are also one of the initial group of 16 original ‘web colours. ’ This represents Starling’s digital heritage and commitment to innovation.

Mark Day, Starling’s art director created the design:

“Great design is about more than just making things look good; it’s about finding a better way of doing things, being responsive to cultural and technological shifts and adapting the outdated to meet emerging needs.

“Our lives are largely lived in portrait now, even down to how we use our phones. A bank card in portrait reflects how we actually use our cards today; it’s intuitive, instinctive, and in short: it’s just common sense.”

Day continues, “Design usually evolves to solve something or to meet new needs, and bank cards don’t look the way they do by accident. They were designed landscape because of the way old card machines worked, and they’re embossed with raised numbers so they could be printed onto a sales voucher.

“But we don’t use those machines anymore, so when you think about it, a landscape card is just a solution to a ‘problem’ that no longer exists.”

The debit cards for consumers will showcase teal, while the business account cards will be navy blue. However, customers shouldn’t worry about their purple card. The purple cards will still work exactly the same. It is only the design of the card that Starling has made changes to.


Starling believes that the design offers customers much tighter security, at a time when card fraud is on the rise.

On the front of the new cards, the Starling Bank name appears. Making it look more streamline and less cluttered the customer’s name and card details are now on the back. This move makes it harder to copy a customer’s financial details.

Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank, commented on the new card design:

“At Starling we are committed to disrupting the market by challenging old ways of doing things and reorienting banking so it works for our customers. Our new card design does exactly that.”

Looking forward

Starling firmly believes that disruption is healthy for the industry. The team at Starling Bank all believe that the old ways of banking need to be challenged. Day speaks about the need to continually shake up banking:

“Good design is about more than the way things look. It’s about challenging old methods and responding to cultural shifts. Adapting the outdated to meet new ways of living.

“We built a new kind of bank from scratch because it was clear that traditional banking didn’t really fit into the way we live anymore. And it’s that spirit – questioning old logic, then finding a way that works better – that we’ve brought to the redesign of our new debit card.”

It has been a busy year for Starling. Never shying away from challenges, the bank has had a year of successful developments. Earlier in July, Starling launched a joint account for its customers. A notoriously tiresome task for couples, Starling has removed the friction from the process. Customers simply just tap on the ‘find their other half’ feature and accept.

The bank is set to continuing leading the way in the shaking up the banking sector, showing no signs of slowing down for the rest of the year.

Starling’s methodology revolves around studying its customers; looking into how they interact with their cards and all other aspects of banking.  By focusing on how to create products that fit effortlessly into a consumer’s daily lives, Starling has been able to deliver innovative and personalised services to its growing customer base.

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