Wednesday 6 April 2016 10:15 am

Digital challenger bank Atom is open for business and the Neil Woodford-backed bank uses innovative face and voice recognition technology

A digital challenger bank which uses face and voice recognition instead of passwords and is trying to give the big four banks a run for their money is now open for business.

Atom Bank, which is backed by top investors including Neil Woodford, has launched today on Apple iOS for pre-registered users.

It believes being digital first and innovative features such as the access via biometric identification, customer service which draws on machine learning and the ability to personalise the app will give it greater appeal to younger generations who do everything on their mobile and are weary of big banks. 

“This is the start of a remarkable transformation of the banking landscape for everyone," said Atom chief Mark Mullen, a former boss of First Direct.

"Atom aims to offer a genuine alternative to the insidious and self-interested banks that dominate the UK banking landscape. Our approach will be to constantly evolve and extend our offering, with monthly updates to our app and a dedication to providing a better value, greater transparency and a much more innovative banking experience."

Atom's much-anticipated launch follows that of other challengers such as Metro Bank and Shawbrook Digitally focused challenger Tandem plans to launch  this summer and German-founded Fidor Bank expanded to the UK last autumn, while Mondo raised £1m in just 96 seconds in its recent fundraising round.

Alongside Mullen, Atom was founded by former Metro Bank chairman Anthony Thompson. Along with Woodford's CF Woodford Fund, it's backed by Jon Moulton, Jim O’Neill and Sir Peter Vardy, while Spanish bank BBVA invested £45m for a majority stake in the bank late last year. It's raised more than £100m since it was founded in 2014.

Customers will initially get a fixed term savings account and small business loans through the app but further products and features are planned, with current accounts, overdrafts, debit and credit cards, instant access savings and residential mortgages by the end of the year. Atom also plans to launch on Android around the end of May.