BCR Award: Our Q3 2023 update

28 November 2023

Business Banking

Tom Renwick
Tom Renwick
Man preparing coffee in a cafe

In 2019, we were awarded a £10m grant from the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) Capability and Innovation Fund. It was big news — we were one of only four chosen from an application pool of 76 fintechs, banks and lenders.

Since then, we’ve worked hard to deliver transformational banking experiences for small businesses and provide them with the confidence to focus on growth.

In the most recent quarter, we are pleased to report that we’ve made good progress, including the continued build of our decisioning architecture and integration into Portal, commencing the discovery phase of our business instant access saver and outperforming our stated lending objectives.

As part of our successful application, we made nine commitments, and we remain resolutely committed to delivering against all of them. Here is how we are tracking:

Bringing innovative smart lending products to market

We are currently reporting delays associated with bringing our business instant access product to market against our business case, with this launch now scheduled for 2024. Recruitment for the associated delivery teams continues to progress, with discovery work continuing in parallel. Concurrently, we have continued to deliver propositional enhancements to our existing lending product.

Commitment to deliver a next generation broker experience

Whilst this commitment has been formally delivered and marked as complete, a further 21 releases took place during the most recent quarter. They delivered a plethora of improvements to our broker journeys and back office platform, highlighting our ongoing and unwavering commitment to improving outcomes for both brokers and borrowers.

Address discouraged demand and improving financial wellbeing

This commitment has been delivered. We continue to assess new opportunities to make better use of customer-provisioned cloud accountancy, Open Banking and e-commerce data in our credit lifecycle in order to better serve borrowers with thin credit profiles or unusual cash flow.

Accelerate the net zero transition

The commitment is on track. In Q3 2023, following the closure of the UN’s Climate Neutral Now initiative, we are aligning our existing pledge with Race to Zero. In partnership with Alectro, we’ve also recently published our annual carbon report for FY23. The report highlights our key areas of focus in reducing emissions in line with the pledged annual reduction of 5%.

At the same time, for the benefit of our SME lending book, we are participating in trials with external providers to account for commercial emissions and EPC data to aid the continued development of green lending products.

Transforming small business banking

This commitment is on track. Atom continues to deliver timely and affordable lending into the market and provides exceptional, market leading levels of customer service. As of 30th September 2023, we have completed £525m of BCR-attributable secured lending. An additional £59m of lending is subject to formal offer during the period and awaiting drawdown.

Create 70 jobs in the North East

This commitment is on track. To date 53 people have joined Atom directly supported by the BCR funding, including 7 graduates. We currently have in excess of 30 vacancies across Atom, including engineering and product roles associated with our BCR programme. All open roles are available to view on our careers page.

Partner with innovative fintechs

To date, we have partnered with seven innovative UK fintech firms to help us deliver our bid commitments. This has included partnerships with Codat, providers of a universal API for small business financial data, and Plaid, an Open Banking and data platform.

Deliver transparency

We continue to publish BCR Commitments Updates to our website, including via our transparent product roadmap. It is our hope that, in sharing this, you will feel more closely connected to the products and features we’re building, fostering richer feedback.

Invest our own money alongside the award

Alongside the BCR award of £10m we remain committed to invest at least £15m of our own funding, this commitment will accelerate over the coming months.