Atom Bank is a digital-only financial company and ‘challenger bank’ established in Durham in 2014. Challenger banks are smaller, newer retail banks set up to compete with, and offer an alternative to, bigger and more traditional UK banks. Atom Bank is entirely smartphone-based and has no physical branches. Atom also has no online banking facility – customers must do all banking via the Atom app.
Atom was granted its banking licence in 2015 and launched to the public in 2016. The bank broke signup records in March 2017 when it gained more than 5,000 new customers in a single day.
Atom Bank Products and Services
Atom launched with fixed saver accounts (up to 2.50% AER) and mortgages. Customers can save up to £100,000. Mortgage customers are given independent advice by a broker and matched with a mortgage; they can then follow its progress in the app.
Atom is available for most iOS and Android smartphones and tablets; a full list of supported devices is available at their website. Users can access their account on more than one device using the same registration details. Atom customers can also personalise the company logo with their own name, and choose their own colour palette for the app.
Atom Bank Security
Atom does not store customer data on the device – instead, data is downloaded at the start of a banking session and is stored on Atom servers. At the end of a session, the data remains on the server but is deleted from the device.
Atom does not require customers to provide a photograph of themselves on registration; instead, they register a biometric reference to a new customer’s face and voice. Instead of being stored as an image, this information is stored as a series of numbers. An algorithm reads the sequence each time a user logs in; if there is not a sufficient match, the app cannot be accessed.
Atom deposits of up to £85,000 are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The world’s first app-based bank, Atom was specifically created to allow customers to do their banking online on their mobile devices. Because the bank operates solely online and doesn’t have branches, it is able to offer more attractive interest rates than traditional “bricks and mortar” high street banks. There is however 24/7 support available from staff based at the bank’s headquarters in Durham. Established in early 2016, the bank already has over 70,000 users.
What makes Atom different, apart from the fact that they only operate online, is the personalisation of their products. All customers receive their own personal logo on their app and can call their bank anything they choose on their mobile devices, creating a fresh, modern appeal which is particularly popular with millennials. Will.i.am joined the board as strategic advisor in Spring 2017, saying he will provide the bank with a perspective on “culture, philanthropy and technology”.
The bank currently offers a range of products and services, all of which can be accessed online via your mobile app:
Customer Panel: this is customised by the user so you can create your own personal view of your products. You can also send immediate feedback of Atom’s services which will be used to improve the overall customer experience.
For sci-fi standard security, users can log in to their bank accounts via face and voice recognition software. Atom claim to be staying at the forefront of technological developments to make the entire experience, even more, user-friendly and secure.
Particularly appealing to SMEs, Atom offers excellent rates for business loans and made its first loan award in 2016, to a company based in its native North East.
Atom works in partnership with a range of carefully selected brokers who can help customers find the right deal. The bank was praised by London broker London & Country in April 2017 for offering the lowest rates “by a mile” with its five-year fixed term of just 1.29%.
The bank’s current star product, the Fixed Saver Account gives customers a clear view of their projected interest payments and the option to choose how often payments are made (monthly or annually). Available on 1,2,3 and 5-year terms, you can open a Fixed Saver Account with as little as £50 and anything up to £100,000. Depending on the length of term and interest options chosen, current AER is between 1.75% and 2.40%* There is an option to open as many savings accounts as you like up to a total of £100,000.
Although Atom offers a modern approach to banking, it still provides the security and peace of mind that you’d expect when investing your money more traditionally. The bank is authorised by the PRA, regulated by the FCA and a member of the FSCS. Customer Support is available via phone, live chat or on Twitter.