BCR grant: Our progress so far...

Tom Renwick28 February 2020

In August, we announced that we had been awarded a £10m grant from the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) Capability and Innovation fund. It was big news - we were only one of four chosen from an application pool of seventy-six fintechs, banks and lenders.

From comprehensive research findings from over 2,500 SMEs, we know that small businesses feel unloved, stressed about their finances and unable to access lending that meets their needs at the times they need it most. We’re using the grant to build a range of ‘Smart Lending’ and ‘Smart Savings’ solutions and deliver a data-driven financial toolkit for small businesses.

In the quarter since receiving funding in October, we are pleased to report we’ve made good progress in mobilising teams to deliver transformational banking experiences for small businesses and provide them with the confidence to focus on growth.

As part of our successful application, we made eight commitments; none of these were made lightly and we remain resolutely committed to delivering against all of them. At Atom we believe in transparency and accountability and in this spirit, we will let you know how we are tracking against these commitments each quarter.

1. Bring Innovative Smart Lending products to market

We’re on track to launch a number of Smart Lending products designed specifically with and for small businesses, recognising that the needs of smaller businesses are distinct and different from those of larger firms. As a fast growing new entrant from the North East of England we know just how hard it is to get a business off the ground and are committed to supporting smaller businesses with a streamlined and truly digital offering that will allow them to thrive. We have mobilised and resourced a programme of work to deliver our first commitments in 2020.

2. Address discouraged demand and improving financial wellbeing

Core to what we are building is giving small businesses the confidence to seek the external finance that is right for them; we will strive to make it easier for more small businesses to borrow, but only when it is the right thing for them to do. We will also provide savings products to support the many businesses currently getting no reward for their cash balances.

Atom’s proposition is being built for and with small businesses. Alongside our partnership with Newcastle University’s FinTrust programme, in the first quarter of 2020 we will launch an online business community, allowing small businesses to offer their feedback and be actively involved in creating rich user experiences. We will look to share details of how to get involved soon.

3. Deliver a digital toolkit to support the needs of small businesses

This commitment remains on track, with the first deliverables scheduled for later in 2020.

We know that it is important for small businesses to be able to monitor their finances and anticipate shortfalls or surpluses in cash flow. We are excited about making free digital products and tools, starting with a real-time cash flow monitor, available to small businesses that want to unleash the value of their financial information by sharing their transactional banking data (via Open Banking) and cloud accounting package data.

4. Transform small business banking

No update in this assessment period, but after a record breaking year for our existing small business lending proposition, we remain confident in our ability to attract customers and lend efficiently.

5. Create 70 new jobs in the North East

We remain committed to creating high quality jobs in our home in the North East, including roles in Data Science and Engineering. In the most recent reporting period, eight people have joined Atom, including two graduates. If you would like to join the Atom family, take a look at our vacancies.

6. Partner with innovative Fintechs

To date, Atom has partnered with one UK fintech to help us deliver our bid commitments and are in active dialogue with a number of other parties.

7. Deliver transparency

We will imminently provide access to the first incarnation of our real time dashboard; this will enable the BCR to track our progress against project milestones. As promised, we’re publishing our first commitments update here, on our public website to show everyone how we’re progressing.

During the first half of 2020, small business owners will begin to see our product roadmap online and with their input, have the ability to influence the experience and insights delivered to them.

8. Invest own money alongside the award

Alongside the BCR grant of £10m we remain committed to invest a further £15m of our own funding.

It’s been a busy few months and there’s so much more to come! If you would like to find out more about our existing offering, check out our secured loans page.