Around 300 jobs could be created as the UK’s first truly digital bank is established in the North East.
Founder of Metro Bank Anthony Thomson and chief executive of First Direct Mark Mullen have chosen the region for the headquarters of their latest venture, Atom, a branchless bank that will be focused on providing the best possible customer experience. The exact location is yet to be confirmed.
Yesterday, Thomson told the Journal the firm would start with 120 people in 2015, but would grow over time to around 300, the vast majority of the jobs being created in the North East, where the cost base was lower than elsewhere.
“Equally important is the fact that the North East has a great workforce - motivated, talented and skilled - to draw upon,” he added.
“I was born in Corbridge and grew up in Newcastle, so I’m delighted that I’ll be spending more time there again.”
Thomson – who will be Atom’s chairman – was a pioneer when it came to spotting the decline of the high street bank, his motivation for setting up Metro Bank in 2007 being that “it had become clear people did not like their existing banks”.
“By 2014, then, the world had changed dramatically and bank branches have seen a dramatic decline,” Thomson added.
“All the real growth is in mobile banking. Building a bank today with branches is like BT bringing telephone kiosks back to the high street.”
Mullen, Thomson said, was the first choice for the CEO job as First Direct was an “exceptional bank” with the highest customer satisfaction rates of all.
The new venture will offer the full range of banking services, while aiming to create better customer experiences and better value. The retail end will be rolled out nationally from the start while the business side will be launched in North East first.
“Business has been under-serviced by the banks, particularly in the North East,” Thomson said.
“We want to bring a greater degree of digital banking to the business world than has been seen before. Helping SMEs is also at the forefront of what we are doing.”
Hexham MP Guy Opperman, who last year organised a banking summit with Thomson, said: “I welcome this new entrant to the banking market in the North East.”