UK: The April launch of Atom Bank is a new chapter for seasoned entrepreneur Anthony Thomson.
The digital- only bank follows his launch of Metro Bank, which he co-founded in 2010 and was also a first, the first new bank to open on the UK’s High Street in more than 100 years. Thomson left to create Atom Bank—an app-only institution that seeks to reflect a seismic shift in customer behavior, acceptance of the idea that branches are no longer necessary.
So far only savings accounts are available to iPhone or iPad users who have pre-registered on the Atom website and received an “invitation code.” Atom will be unveiling a range of products and continuous app enhancements throughout the year, including a service for Android users in May. By the end of the year, customers will have access to fixed savings, current accounts, overdrafts, debit and credit cards, instant access savings and residential mortgages—all serviced via the app.
With a background in financial services marketing, Thomson believes the future of banking is digital—and mobile, in particular.
Frank Schwab, former CEO of Fidor TecS and senior consultant at McKinsey, says it is too early to tell if “Thomson’s marketing background is good enough to understand the needs and buying behavior of the digital customer and new digital business models in financial services.”
He also questions whether the launch of two savings products was the right call by Atom Bank. “A mobile-only bank should also create unique mobile customer experiences, [not just] products.”
By offering 2% interest on Atom Bank’s one-year, fixed-rate savings account and a two-year savings product with a 2.2% fixed rate, Thomson is betting on being competitive enough to persuade people who are not yet convinced they should control their finances with their phones.
Those tempted to take the plunge will access their Atom accounts with their smartphones, using face and voice recognition.
Thomson believes that by 2020 more banking transactions will be done on mobile devices than through all other channels put together. He has also predicted the demise of debit and credit cards, as all payments will be made on mobile devices.