For many of the startups that we cover, funding is an issue, at least early on. They may pick up some solid backing, even a million Euro or two, but the big money only comes after they demonstrate solid metrics and results. This is not one of those cases. Backed by 25 million pounds from around 70 investors, led by Neil Woodford, British banking newcomer Atom intends to get off to a running start when it launches in the near future.
Atom intends to offer traditional banking services, but they are putting their own spin on the concept by freeing themselves from the usual physical aspects. Rather than open branches, they intend to operate online-only, available 24/7 to serve customers. What we know for now is that Atom is promoting an easy sign-up process, stating that new users need only to provide some form of ID (passport or driver’s license) and then answer a few more questions. While the startup says that they intend to launch with a full-featured platform, they also note that they are opening without “legacy systems” or real estate, ostensibly enabling them to prioritize the average customer.
They are reluctant to reveal full details regarding their monetization strategy, but COO Edward Twiddy would tell me that they intend to follow traditional banks by lending at risk and earning a margin on those loans.
Although it has yet to launch, Atom reached a key step in the pre-launch phase when they announced last month that they have obtained a U.K. banking license, sort of important if you wish to operate as a bank in that country. They plan to launch soon, but are in no hurry, as Twiddy notes that any banking operation must have an end-to-end system that is secure and ready from the start.
One other aspect worth mentioning is that, unlike British startups that gravitate towards London, Atom has opted to establish its headquarters (the one physical location that they have established) in Durham, in the northeast of England.