A BANKING firm is to open a new office in Southampton creating 150 jobs in the city.

On line bank Starling has chosen the city for its first office outside of London, citing the area's wealth of tech talent as one reason for the move.

The bank could not give the exact location of the offices but confirmed it would be in the city centre and would be open by the summer..

The new offices will house up to 50 software engineers and 100 customer service staff. Most of these jobs will be new hires.

Starling, which was founded five years ago, has 500,000 current account customers and 30,000 business customers.

It is one of a host of digital-only challenger banks that have sprung up in recent years aiming to take market share from traditional lenders. Much of its business is done via mobile phone apps.

The bank was attracted to Southampton because of its "growing and skilled jobs market, reputation as a burgeoning tech hub, transport links and easy access to London".

Southampton was recently identified a "super cluster" technology hotspot by CBRE, a property advisory group, for its high employment of technology professionals.

Chief executive Anne Boden said: "We are growing so fast that we are rapidly running out of space in our London offices.

"What really attracts us to Southampton is its entrepreneurial spirit and its level of tech talent.

"We're looking for new people - engineers as well as customer service team members - to join us in Southampton now and will be expanding the office quickly."

Starling was awarded £100 million last month from the Royal Bank of Scotland competition remedies fund that aims to break the high street giants' grip on the banking sector.

Ms Boden said Starling was looking to increase its number of business customers, aiming at sole traders, start-ups and SMEs (small to medium enterprises).

"We want to build a business bank and much of the work needed to do that will happen in Southampton," she said.

Starling arrival was welcomed by the city's business leaders.

Mark Baulch, head of policy & representation at Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said; "This is a very positive piece of news following most of the decisions and changes being made by the banking industry recently. This number of high quality jobs being created in the city will also be very warmly received by the retail and hospitality sectors as it brings additional people with disposable income into the catchment area.

"It is also very pleasing to see the banks’ reasons for choosing Southampton, which justify the investment that we have seen recently and hope to see in the future."

Sandeep Sesodia, chair of the chamber's Commerce Southampton Business Strategy Group added: "Given the continuing changes in the banking sector and the way that customers bank, this is a very welcome and modern banking alternative. It will drive the economy, boost employment and give businesses a new option. For Southampton this is a massive confidence booster."

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith said: "This is testament to the national reputation we have as a key hub on the south coast for business and our internationally renowned universities. The creation of up to 150 new jobs is welcome news and I wish them well with their launch.”