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A New Bank and Not a Ball Chain Pen in Sight


October 31, 2021 | Jonathan Pryer

What does it take to launch a bank these days?

If you’re Atom bank, it takes a mobile app and face and voice biometrics. What it doesn’t take is bank branches, paperwork or those pens distrustfully tethered to counters via ball chains.

Atom completed its UK launch back in 2016. Entirely app-based, customers do all their banking through their smart phone.

In fact, on Atom’s website, the answer to the question “where’s my nearest branch?” begins, “on your nearest tree.” Fair enough. Atom does go on to add that they, “don’t have high street branches because they’re unnecessary, no one wants to visit them and no one likes queuing.”

In true technology leapfrogging style, there isn’t even a plan to release a website version.

It’s all a far cry from the founding of Lloyds Bank 250 years ago. The fascinating Anniversary eBook ‘Helping Britain Prosper’ gives us an insight into the bank’s early days.

Such is the bank’s heritage, it was nearly 130 years before the first typewriter. Pre-computerisation, operations were manual. When it came to customer statements for example, staff copied out ledger entries, initially by hand and later by typewriter until 1960 and the arrival of the Post Tronic accounting machine.

It’s a rich and wonderful history of the progression of customer experience as much as it is one of computerisation. Compare how the customer wishing to write a cheque had to go into the bank in person to request a form, with today’s customer convenience. Not only is Atom 24/7 banking anytime, anywhere, but it’s also customised to the individual, right down to their own logo and choice of colours that drive their visual experience.

Banking has certainly come a long way. For challengers and traditional banks alike, it is now undoubtedly the era of the customer.