Atom is a new bank that operates exclusively through a mobile app


The banking world is dominated by a handful of really big, really old corporations that make it difficult for newcomers to gain any ground. That hasn’t sopped Atom from trying, and despite numerous difficulties involved, the startup managed to secure its banking licence this week and is expected to open itself up to customers by the end of the year. What makes Atom different from its competitors is the fact that it’s almost entirely mobile-based. While support for desktops is going to come in the near future, Atom wants to be an extremely mobile-centric banking service where practically everything can be done from your smartphone or tablet. 

Setting up a new bank is like being beaten up again and again, according to Anthony Thomson, the chairman of new lender Atom Bank. Atom received its banking licence yesterday, and hopes to open to customers before the end of 2015. It is the second time Mr Thomson has been through the authorisation process, as he was also a co-founder of Metro Bank. He told an audience at a Fiserv seminar on challenger banks that the process is a long and gruelling one. “In the 1990s and early 2000s, I spent 10 years boxing. I love boxing, but there were times when I was fighting someone who was much better than me, and I’d been there thinking, why on earth am I putting myself through this. I thought this was a useful metaphor for starting a bank,” Mr Thomson said. “It is without a doubt the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. But there have been times when I thought, why on earth am I doing this when I am getting beaten up by suppliers and contractors and the marketplace in general, and other providers.” He told the audience that regulators are more helpful and more experienced now than they were when he first set up Metro Bank. And investors are also more open to the idea, as they have seen the success of lenders like Virgin Money, Aldermore and Shawbrook. All three have seen a healthy uplift in their share prices since floating on the stock market over the last nine months.

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