In recent years, U.S. banks have steadily closed more branches as consumers increasingly turn to mobile technology to handle their finances online. But one British startup is taking the idea even further, planning to operate with no physical locations.
Atom Bank wants to let customers do all of their banking, including opening an account, by app. The company said Wednesday it has been granted a government license to proceed with its planned launch of products and services to potential customers later this year.
The bank says it is developing "a range of personal and business banking products and services that will be available to consumers via mobile apps," with a desktop version to follow.
Without any physical bank branches -- Atom reportedly also will not have a website where people can conduct their business online -- the company says it wants customers to abandon traditional ways of banking. That means tapping technologies such as biometric security and 3D computing.
Atom Bank "will make banking easy and convenient, but it will also have better systems, better processes, better policies and better people behind it," said CEO Mark Mullen in a blog post. "We want it to be simple and transparent and innovative. We want it to be low cost, because price matters to people and we don't see why in this day and age they should be paying for something they don't use."
Atom's approach seems geared to millennials, or 18-to-34-year-olds, who are making their impact as consumers and who do most of their online shopping and business transactions via mobile apps. A new Goldman Sachs (GS) survey found that, when shopping, more than a third of millennials prefer to contact company customer service representatives electronically.
Atom isn't going entirely peopleless as well as spaceless. The company will have a customer service department available by social media, email, online chat and even telephone.
Atom isn't even the first online, branchless bank. The German-based Fidor Bank is already looking to expand its services into the U.S. market.