UK’s mobile only bank, Atom has raised (£83 million) $102 million in equity. The round was led by Spanish bank, BBVA, contributing $36 million. Other investors include Woodford Investment Management, Toscafund Asset Management and other undisclosed investors.
The bank started operations in April 2016, after securing the banking license in June 2015; and is and is led by Mark Mullen as CEO, and Anthony Thomson as the Chairman. Prior to joining the startup, Mullen was CEO of HSBC’s online and telephone bank First Direct. The bank says it has a team of 260 people.
The investment will allow BBVA to continue as Atom’s main strategic investor and maintain its stake of around 29.5%, which it had taken in 2015. As a strategic shareholder and partner, BBVA will keep two seats on Atom’s Board of Directors and will continue to “bring knowledge and support to Atom’s development.”
“Atom has a lot of promise, with tremendous opportunities for growth. It allows BBVA to further its transformation and maintain its commitment to the British market,” said Javier Rodríguez Soler, Global Head of Strategy and M&A at BBVA.
The latest funding brings the total capital raised by Atom to (£219 million) $269 million. Atom said it “expects to announce further funding in the near future.”
Commenting on the latest capital raise, Atom Bank’s Founder and Chairman, Anthony Thomson said:
“We are very pleased with the response we have had from investors. Our customers benefit from the backing of highly reputable investors who are supportive of what we are doing. This is a great vote of confidence in our growth prospects and plans for the future. With the work we have done so far we are just beginning to see how transformational our new approach to banking can be. There is so much more to come from Atom in the coming months and years”.
The neobank — a term for digital only banks — is offering secured lending to SME businesses, available through a number of specialist business intermediaries. Though it started with competitive fixed term savings only. It recently launched its first mobile mortgage product, allowing borrowers to manage everything via an app — Available both on iOS and Android.
Atom claims that as of December 2016, it had deposits exceeding (£110 million) $135 million across its market leading Fixed Saver accounts; and received over (£100 million) $123 million in lending applications.
The app-only bank was launched keeping the millennials in mind. But the bank says that the average age of its savers is over 50.
Atom is not just the only neobank, even though it was the first to launch in the UK. It’s been almost four years since neobanks have been around. The prominent ones include Moven, GoBank, and Simple. Other neobanks in the UK include Mondo, Starling Bank, and Tandem.
Bot’s the way
Account opening in the challenger bank is entirely paper-free, using face and voice biometrics to login into the app. The company claims that the app has been built on the Unity gaming platform; and uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help optimize its customer service team. Atom Bank has partnered with WDS, a Xerox company to help it provide the machine learning technology.
The WDS Virtual Agent software tool that’s integrated into the app allows customers to self-serve and get get immediate answers directly from the app. The technology learns through experience, analyzing customer behavior, problems and solution success rates, and the more the system deals with an issue, the more efficient and effective it gets in providing solutions. The WDS Virtual Agent uses analytics to capture the context of each customer inquiry and deliver relevant responses and solutions.
The gaming factor
The challenger bank in March last year, acquired the IT development business — Grasp (UK) Limited, to strengthen its IT team. Brian Jobling, owner of Grasp joined Atom as its Business Development Director.
The Grasp’s team brought with it User-Interface expertise from the banking industry and a rich experience from the video gaming industry. Atom claims that the combined experience in 3D technology and design visualization will drive the differentiation of Atom’s customer’s experience.