BBVA, Spain’s second-largest bank, has invested £45m in Atom Bank, UK’s first digital-only financial institution.
The Spanish bank will now have a 29.5 per cent stake in the Neil Woodford-backed challenger bank.
The investment continues a trend of large Spanish financial institutions venturing into the UK finance market. Earlier this year Sabadell, Spain’s fifth-largest bank, acquired another challenger bank, TSB.
Atom Bank first rose to prominence by its unique decision to be a digital-only bank. At a recent event, Lisa Wood, Atom Bank’s chief marketing officer, pointed out that the lender “cannot be all things to all men” and asserted “we don’t believe branches are here to stay”. It is close to launching its services, which will start with small business loans worth £150,000, and there are rumours suggesting the bank will have a wearable presence as well as mobile.
“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,” said CEO Mark Mullen in a blog post.