Buying into digital

Spanish BBVA Buys Almost 30% Stake in First Digital Bank Atom

One of the biggest banks in Spain has secured the biggest single interest in the online banking services provider

Spanish bank BBVA has acquired a 29.5 percent stake in the world’s first all-digital bank, UK-based Atom.

The deal was worth £45 million ($67.8 mln) and was part of a funding round that saw Atom collect some £82 million ($123.6 mln). Besides BBVA, participants in the round included Neil Woodford, owner of Woodford Equity Income fund, and Toscafund Asset Management, for both of whom this is not the first time they have provided funding for the startup. The funding round values Atom at £150 million ($226 mln), the Financial Times reports.

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The future Is Digital

This makes the Spanish lender the biggest shareholder in the startup, representing its first foray into the British market. As part of the deal, BBVA officials will take two seats on Atom’s ten-person board.

Following the news, BBVA’s Chairman Francisco Gonzalez said: “Digital banks that put the customer first are the future. BBVA’s investment in Atom backs those beliefs in one move.”

Atom, set up by Metro Bank’s founder Anthony Thompson and First Direct’s ex-Chief Executive Officer Mark Mullen, offer mobile banking services. It got licensed in June this year and has not as yet started its commercial activity. This is planned to happen early next year.

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