30,000 people have registered with app-only challenger bank Atom since it launched last month, according to reports.
The Daily Mail reported the figure of registrations but says the Durham-based startup bank is only letting 30-40 people a day download the app as it drip feeds access to its fixed savings accounts, offering 2% interest for a year and 2.2% interest for 2 years.
To open an account, customers must register interest online. Once they reach the front of the queue they are sent a code that allows them to unlock the app and open an account.
The paper quotes CEO Mark Mullen as saying: “We are being very cautious as we need to get this absolutely right.”
Atom is not alone in restricting access to its product. Rival app-only banking service Mondo currently has a waiting list of 110,000, a company representative confirmed to BI over email, and it is sending out around 300 cards a day. The startup currently does not have a banking licence, but operates a pre-paid card linked to an app. It has 10,500 cards in circulation.
Tandem, another app-only bank poised t0 launch in the UK this year, also plans to restrict access to its service initially. Founder and deputy CEO Ricky Knox told BI: “We actually opened our first account last week, it went live with real money, Basically, we’re starting off with our cofounders, they’re going to be the first guys to get access. 5,000 customers is actually quite a few.”
Tandem’s “cofounders” are the 5,000 people who signed up to receive a free share in the startup bank in return for giving feedback on how it works and how it should look.
Knox told BI he was starting with this small, closed community first to stop established banks copying his product. He says: “We’re in a land of David and Goliath, with a few little Davids and massive Goliaths. I’m not worried about little Davids copying what we’re up to but these Goliaths, if they think it’s a good idea they can throw £100 million at a problem very quickly. We’re keeping them out of knicker draw so to speak for the moment.”
Knox spoke to Business Insider ahead of Tandem’s launch of a £1 million crowdfunding campaign later this month. Tandem gained its banking licence last year and plans to launch later this year.
Atom was the first app-only bank to be licensed by the Bank of England last year and launched its app and its first products last month. The bank is run by former Metro Bank cofounder Anthony Thompson, Atom’s chairman, and Mullen, who used to run HSBC’s telephone banking service First Direct.
The challenger bank is backed by Spanish banking giant BBVA, which last year valued it at £150 million even before launch, as well as star fund manager Neil Woodford and former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, who famously coined the term BRICs to refer to Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
The Daily Mail says Atom plans to launch a current account and easy access saver in October.