Shaun Weston talks to Atom Bank CEO Mark Mullen about user experience, 21st century banking, and being customer-centric in a mobile-dominant world.

My latest interview for the BankNXT Fintech Podcast series focuses on Mark Mullen from Atom Bank, a UK company that received its banking license in June 2015. Mark started his career with the Forward Trust Group, a division of Midland Bank, which became a part of HSBC in the 1990s, and in 2000 joined HSBC in London to help launch an internet banking platform. A few years later, Mark took over as chief executive of First Direct, and from there joined Anthony Thomson to form Atom Bank. In the second annual ‘Fintech 100’, KPMG and H2 Ventures placed Atom at No 8.

Among many topics under the spotlight, we talk about the human side of banking, how the north of England is a bright spot for talent, and why “the southeast infrastructure is broken”. On being mobile rather than branch, Mark says: “It’s a business that wants to be very close to its customers, and we can’t think about how much closer you can be to your customer than in their pocket.”

He shares his views about the UK’s perfect soil for innovation in financial services, and how having to compete for customers isn’t the primary goal: “I don’t believe that Atom has to be for everybody. It has to be for people who choose it, and that means they will be comfortable not having branches, they will be comfortable using mobile technology, and using video calls, and using phone calls to bank. They will not just be comfortable about it, they’ll prefer it. It’s easy to say you’re competing against people who want the comfort of a branch. No, we’re not. We’re not competing for that customer at all. We’re competing for people who already want to control their finances themselves, and for whom a branch is an anachronism.”

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About the author

Shaun Weston

Shaun Weston is Senior Editor of BankNXT and Backbase, and a creative content provider specialising in digital projects, marketing and social media. He has worked with businesses that focus on editorial strategy for online or print, consumer or B2B, and his work includes The Economist, SAS, Oracle, Future Publishing, and Backbase.

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