Head of marketing Neil Costello outlines the mission of Atom Bank, the mobile-first challenger bank launched in 2014
More than 600 bank branches have closed across Britain over the past year according to figures obtained by the BBC. The question is, how are people doing their banking if the branches are disappearing? At Atom Bank we think that, increasingly, they’ll be doing it online and via an app on their phone.
Smartphone penetration is approaching a peak, just nine years after the launch of the first full touchscreen smartphone. No other personal device has had the same commercial and societal impact, and no other device seems likely to. Relentless innovation continues at device and network levels, leading to exciting times. Statista recently reported that there are nearly 45m smartphone users in the UK alone – that’s over 70 per cent of the entire population.
So, with these stats in mind, why would anyone want to get in their car and drive into town, then find somewhere to park, to go to a branch, to do the exact same transaction they could choose to do from the comfort of their own home, from the office or even the loo, on their mobile phone?
That was the thinking behind the creation of Atom, which was founded in Durham in 2014, by six people who were disillusioned with the current way of banking. They decided to do things differently, and to try to change banking for good – permanently and for the better – with a low-cost business model, no legacy systems to try to drag into the 21st century, and no high-street bricks-and-mortar branch network to maintain.
We all know that as the world changes and technology evolves, we are becoming lazier and our expectations of immediacy are on the increase. And this is true of our attitude to banking too. It shouldn’t take days to see our latest transaction, and we shouldn’t have to be our own accountants, reconciling our statements every month.
Why should banking be all suits, jargon, unnecessary charges and, quite honestly, hard work? Atom doesn’t believe it should be. Banking (horrid term) should be fast, easy, low-cost and, who knows, perhaps it could even be fun. That’s always been part of our thinking.
We have built our app on a gaming platform to make the user experience unique, personal and completely interactive. It’s is built using a 3D graphic development engine, as we want our experience to be a lot more engaging than traditional banking apps. The mobile experiences customers enjoy and find useful currently come from entertainment, gaming and travel brands, not from banking.
Already, we have seen both young and old alike joining the Atom revolution. Indeed, our oldest customer is 92 years young. At the moment, Atom offers market-leading fixed saver options, secured business lending to SMEs and residential mortgages (via a panel of intermediaries). Eventually, our plan for the app is that it will be a whole bank, offering everything you would expect from a traditional bank, without the faff, on your mobile phone.
Imagine a future where you can connect all your financial products, whatever brand they are, in one place, using intellectual technology on your phone that will help you, based on your behaviour, to save, spend and, dare I say, enjoy the relationship you have with your money. Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t, because we are building it right now.
Atom isn’t about ‘banking’, it’s about people. It’s about trying to change things so that people aren’t punished for managing their own money the way they want to. People don’t wake up in the morning wanting financial products or innovation in the banking world, they want real things like holidays, cars or a lie-in. We want to help make people’s lives easier, by redefining their relationship with their money, quickly and easily, on their mobile phone.