Elias Pelcastre

Albo, a Starling replacement bank in Mexico

So, I’m back in Mexico, and I found myself missing Starling, my favorite bank from the UK. It was so easy to use, with a graphic interface for my expenditures and incomes, as well as an easy way to control my card. Plus, their support was unparalleled, with quick answers and zero fuzz.

Now that I returned to my hometown, I was looking for an alternative. And I think I may have found it: Albo. This is a “neobank” which runs entirely from an Android or iPhone app, no physical branches.

I have to admit I had a rocky start, as I tried uploading my national identity card (INE) to the app and it took two days to start using the service, as it told me my card was fake, which it isn’t.

Support was fairly quick to answer to my complaints, and after things were up and running, I got 50 MXN as part of their welcome offer. I was supposed to get two free cinema tickets, but looking closely to the small print, the offer expired a while ago and there were no remaining tickets available.

Albo’s interface is not as good looking as Starling’s. You get a white screen with your movements, with two options on the top to send and receive money, and on the bottom access to your card and expenditure reports.

Like Starling, Albo lets you control your card, but in the case of the latter, you get a digital and a physical card. This for security reasons, as you can generate a CVV number that expires in five minutes. Now you can make online purchases and not worry your CVV gets stolen by a hacker.

Albo helps you pay services like TV, broadband, gas and electricity, and even get a mobile top up or pay your credit card balance. All from the “Services” section with just the tap of a button.

The “Report” section offers a visual way to see how much money you have earned and spent. It categorises them according to the type. I sent money to my wife and it shows as a transference, with a paper plane icon, and the 50 MXN is displayed as a reward with a money icon.

And like Starling, Albo has spaces for you to have money dedicated for things that you’re saving for, like a trip, a PS5, or just savings in general.

To create a space, just hit the dedicated button on the main screen, add a photo, a title, and send money to it. You can also set automatic deposits and see the history of movements. Or even hide your balance.

It’s early days for me to say if Albo will be a true Starling replacement, but I’m happy for now. I will give it some time and update this article with my thoughts.

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