Atom, the world’s first all-digital bank, has finished capital raising thus making the moment of its launch closer. The bank has managed to collect £135 million. The largest share accounts for Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, better known as BBVA, the second largest bank in Spain.
Founded 158 years ago, the bank offers banking services not only in Spain, but in North and South America and Turkey as well. BBVA has purchased a 29.5 percent stake which makes up £45 million. This makes the Spanish lender the biggest shareholder in the startup.
The contract implies BBVA officials to take two seats on Atom’s ten-person board. Last year the Spanish bank made two considerable investments. It acquired US neo-bank Simple for $117 million and set up a $100 million venture fund to invest in fintech startups. It can be definitely called open to digital innovations as it has established a digital banking and data analytics unit.
BBVA chairman Francisco Gonzalez predicts a digital revolution in banking sphere stating that in the future all banks will be software companies. “Digital banks that put the customer first are the future. BBVA’s investment in Atom backs those beliefs in one move”, he says.
Obviously BBVA is not the only shareholder. The list of contributors includes Neil Woodford, owner of Woodford Equity Income fund, and Toscafund Asset Management. Both invest in startups not for the first time.
Mark Mullen, Atom’s CEO, highly appreciated the contribution of BBVA: “We’re excited by BBVA’s decision to invest in Atom, an excitement that’s about more than money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of money and of course the money is important but it’s only one of the things we need to help us build our business. BBVA has lots of banking experience and they also have access to considerable financial and material resources, but the real reasons we are enthusiastic about this deal are much, much simpler.”
Indeed the reasons are very straight: Mullen feels that the vision of Atom and BBVA concurs and they can follow the same way. They both believe that technologies if used correctly have power to change people’s lives, banks and banking sphere for the better. The most important thing about any type of collaboration is the ability and desire to learn from each other. Thus Atom and BBVA are to become proper partners.
Atom’s team members call themselves “a passionate bunch of people who want to make banking better.” The bank “built with lots of heart and plenty of soul” is preparing for a great launch in the beginning of 2016. Now it is undergoing live trial.