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Making Mobile Matter – Atom Bank

Alex Spencer

Ahead of the Mobile Marketing Finance Summit, taking place in London on 10 September, we spoke to Lisa Wood, chief marketing officer at Atom Bank, who will be presenting at the event.

Lisa WoodCan you give us an idea what you’ll be sharing with us at the Mobile Marketing Finance Summit in September please?

I’ll be making the case for why now is the right time to launch a mobile only bank, looking at customer-centric design and the role it plays in designing a full banking ecosystem on a mobile device. I’ll also be looking at how brands should be thinking about humanising digital, making what you do for customers relevant and engaging.

Can you tell us a bit more about Atom Bank's origins and the passion behind it, and perhaps shine more light on what the company's key goals are as a player in the financial services industry as a whole?

Atom started with Anthony Thomson, former chairman of Metro Bank, who wanted to harness the shift in digital behaviours and the decline he saw in branch based banking. He asked Mark Mullen, former CEO of First Direct, to join him along with a handful of other founding members. The small initial team has grown over the past year and we’re now up to 100 people from different sectors, all sharing the same passion to create a new and different type of bank, changing banking for good. While some see us as a challenger brand, we like to see ourselves as a bank that’s customer obsessed, championing the case for better banking.

For you personally, what have been the biggest challenges and successes whilst creating this mobile-first brand?

The biggest challenge has been having a completely blank sheet of paper and building a bank from scratch, a huge undertaking. In previous roles, I’d inherited brands, ways of doing things, knowing what works, what doesn’t, with a team to support me. At Atom, we’ve literally built everything: the team, the brand, ways of working. It’s been a completely enlightening experience – not many people get to design a new brand from scratch and bring it to market. I’ve been involved in many aspects of bringing Atom to life, all the highs and lows of working in a start-up environment.

Do you think the financial services industry is a leader when it comes to being mobile-first?

I think the financial services industry is a laggard in mobile in many respects. Digital in banking for the most part has been born out of an efficiency agenda – seen as a way of getting customers to ‘DIY’ bank, helping take low cost transactions out of branches. Internet Banking has been functionally designed, rather than trying to create a rich customer-centric experience.

With the adoption of mobile and apps, more thinking is now going into how you create a more relevant and useful experience for customers, but the established banks certainly haven’t designed for digital first, they've evolved their channels without overhauling. There’s so much mobile technology that could be incorporated into a banking experience that current banks are only just scraping the surface on.

What do you see being the biggest changes in the industry that are catalysed by mobile?

For the established players one of the biggest internal challenges is having to build their mobile experience on top of legacy systems which makes agility difficult. Taking more of a customer perspective, banks need to think about how they engage customers through mobile and make themselves indispensable. People are emotional creatures and want to buy from brands they can relate to and those who add value to their lives. In the financial services industry, we have to be creative in how we re-connect to customers and re-think the relationship we have we them.

For more information, or to apply to attend the Mobile Marketing Finance Summit in London on September 10, click here.