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Metro Bank founder Anthony Thomson has unveiled plans to challenge high street lenders with the UK’s ‘digital only’ bank.

Metro Bank founder Anthony Thomson has unveiled plans to challenge high street lenders with a ‘digital only’ bank.

Thomson, who was chairman for Metro Bank until 2012, has recruited First Direct CEO Mark Mullen to the lead the launch of his new venture, Atom, which is expected to arrive in early 2015. 

Atom, which will be headquartered in the north east of England, will have no branches, offering services purely online and through mobile apps.

"Designed entirely for the digital age and with none of the legacy issues of the past, Atom will be the UK's first real alternative to the established banks," says Thomson in a statement seen by Finextra.

"We believe that Atom will be the 21st century choice for customers who want a bank that's not just different, but more importantly, better."

Thomson will be chairman of the new bank, while Mullen, who served as chief executive of the online and telephone bank First Direct since 2011, will become CEO.

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There have been other online-only banks launched in UK in the past, such as Egg, which arrived in 1998. Billed by original owner Prudential as the first pure-play internet bank, its credit card accounts are now owned by Barclays, with savings and mortgage accounts run by Yorkshire Building Society.

The announcement comes amid declining footfall at branches, with customers increasingly using mobile devices for banking and account services.

A recent report by the British Bankers’ Association claimed that smarthphones are driving a “revolution” in banking, with mobile transactions doubling within the space of a year.

Meanwhile, the Royal Bank of Scotland announced last week that it is to close 44 branches following a sharp drop-off in in-store transactions, as its customers rely more on new technologies. The bank claims to have seen total footfall dropping by 30 percent over the past four years, a problem also experienced by other large banks.