Durham-based Atom Bank has declared itself open for business, with the aim of providing SMEs a one of a kind, personalised, transparent banking experience. BQ had the chance to tour their head office, see a demo of their product, and ask Craig Iley just what it means for businesses.
Atom is now able to offer secured lending to small businesses, through a number of specialist business intermediaries, and have fine-tuned all of the financial process to speed up the lending process.
The digital platform allows the bank to turn credit decisions around in 72 hours, with the company aiming to reduce this time to no more than 48 hours. And they open with deals already in the pipeline.
They also released their landmark app, which allows personal banking customers to personalise their platform to suit their needs, from changing the name of their bank, relabeling their accounts, to picking their own unique colour palette from the 1.4m available.
The firm, just two weeks shy of its second anniversary, separates itself from traditional banks by helping customers to simply have a relationship with their money, not with their bank.
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“What we’re looking to do is to create a digital interface that allows us to collect the information in a much more convenient way for the customer,” said Craig Iley, managing director of business banking for Atom.
“That, in turn, allows us to make better business decisions, give people the best rate, and some insight into how their business works.”
Crucially, however, he points out that Atom won’t be offering any kind of advisory services to businesses; they choose their own trusted advisors, he says, and Atom isn’t looking to interfere with that relationship.
Instead, they will be offering a degree of transparency which business customers won’t have ever seen before.
“To be able to give them some insight into how their money and business is working for them is valuable. We don’t want to give them advice, we want to be able to send them information back and say ‘look, we’ve analysed the info you’ve provided to us and we think this is what it’s telling us about your business.’
“Of the 5m SMEs out there, 96% of them turn over less than £6.5m, and the vast majority will employ less than 5 people. They don’t always have the resources that you expect they might have.”
Dubbed a ‘challenger bank’, Atom has no physical branches, operating with a team of 188 from their Durham head office with an online service supported by telephone-based team members.
Securing £135m of equity funding to bring their service to market might seem like a huge amount of money – but this is a bank; it’s not something you can do on the cheap.
In FinTech terms, they’re using leading technology, pushing boundaries, and challenging everything.
As for personal banking customers, the nifty app also boasts innovative ways to access your account, including biometric face recognition, voice recognition and pin code access.
Unlike traditional banking apps, the Atom Bank app was built from scratch using gaming platform Unity, giving users a sleek yet playful mobile banking experience.
Within the next year the bank hopes to release an app specifically designed for a business banking audience, hoping to trigger new customers as the market for traditional banks begin to shrink.
Iley continued: “We’re looking to build an operation that is low cost, transparent and innovative in the way that we deal with customers.”
By the end of 2016 Atom customers will be able to use the app to access fixed savings and current accounts, overdrafts, debit and credit cards, and residential mortgages.
Atom’s founder and chairman Anthony Thomson said: “The team has achieved something that simply hasn’t been done before– we believe we have built a bank in record time, and we’re not planning to stop here.
“It is not a simple task, and having an amazing team working hard to deliver the seemingly impossible has been crucial.”
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