As far as a year goes, 2020 is certainly one to be written out of history. Covid was ravaging the planet and people in their millions filled hospital wards across the world unable to breathe as the virus took hold. In May of 2020 George Floyd was unlawfully killed by police officers in Minneapolis whilst repeatedly uttering the words “I can’t breathe” and from these words came an entire global movement to battle institutionalised bias towards minority groups.
Marvyn Smith identified with this message on many levels. Making the link between being unable to breathe and his own experience. The frustration he experienced over the last 20 years of his professional career and personal experiences, not being able to break through the glass ceiling and the lack of people of colour in senior management, directorship, and board-level positions particularly within the UK and Europe. “I found myself advising, implementing and transforming clients/companies strategies but my face didn’t fit the company or organisation at senior levels” despite having both the experience, talent and qualifications. Add to this his concerns around the ethnicity pay gap in the public sector and within private companies.
On further study, it became clear there was a wider issue around systemic biases within public and private institutions. Focusing on his own field (the Financial and Technology sector), “I realised that certain metrics and decision-making data heavily impacted and excluded minorities who didn’t have access to financial services that ‘seemed’ inclusive”
“ I also realised that this exclusion was a global problem for both individuals and micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises and wanted to do something about it.”
Marvyn had seen various regions of the world coming together to protest against the killing of George Floyd, and that’s when the urgency came to do something about underrepresented communities and businesses. Marvyn wanted to make a difference and to be an example at the same time by doing something unique that will leave a legacy
That is when the idea for ‘ATMEN’ came along. Atmen comes from the German verb ‘to breathe’, a message with extreme poignancy at the time and a breath of new thinking. Becoming the first entirely black-owned and led fintech neo bank in the UK and Europe.
“Dedicated to diversity and breaking down systemic biases within the industry. Atmen is not exclusive to the black and minority community but inclusive for everyone.”
Formed on the 13th of July 2020 and pushed by Marvyn and Co-Founder Dele Abibu, to successfully crowd fund [An undisclosed amount] during September of that year. By November of 2020 Atmen were already starting to configure their app alongside technology partners ‘Optherium Labs’ who provided Atmen with the only app to date built by cybersecurity experts using a decentralised private block-chain network.
During a delay with its card issuers, Atmen used the time to commence implementing their strategy for growth by entering emerging markets. Its focus on this occasion was Africa, starting with Nigeria. Atmen is now fully registered there and in place for its expansion phase to begin in that region.
From the 5th of July Atmen’s Euro Account will be operational for UK and EEA nationals to onboard with other exciting features and integrations coming soon. Before the 5th of July (April 2021 – June 2021), Atmen was exclusive to the friends and family network for live beta testing.
Receiving partnering licencing to launch in the UK and EEA on July 5th 2021 Atmen was conceived, funded, and launched in just one year! An impressive achievement from a fintech based challenger bank and evidence of its backer’s belief in the business and its message.
What does Atmen do?
Atmens platform is another first for digital banking solutions. It is the only banking app that has been built by cybersecurity experts to date, utilising a private decentralised blockchain network. (Think cryptocurrency)
Customers will be able to securely go through the KYC sign-up process, and once successful, can start using the app straight away with their virtual card. Customers will be able to load funds, hold digital receipts, customise their favourites, carry out peer-to-peer money transfers and send funds within the Atmen App or to other bank accounts local or internationally plus many more features. Additional services such as Family & Kids accounts, migrant, freelancers, and business accounts will be added later this year. Loaded with features you will have the ability to access and manage your account over multiple devices and via the app on both iOS and android devices. Essentially starting with a prepaid virtual card which you can deposit funds onto and use immediately as well as ordering a physical card at your convenience should you wish.
Within its software, you can create an account and transfer multiple currencies as you wish and make online transfers to anywhere in the world. If your payees are also using the Atmen app, they will receive the funds in seconds. Frequent payments can be set up within your favourites to make payments even faster. Atmen also boasts 24/7 support meaning you will never be left unable to make use of the amazing app and its features.
The future of Atmen
Instead of building the service from the ground up, Atmen has contracted and partnered with Optherium Labs a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider.
They use blockchain technology and licencing to operate in the UK, EEA, SEPA region and the US, aligns with the fintech’s expansion plans opening the door for expansion and scaling up in a shorter time than most other start-up challenger banks will manage.
Atmen also plans to Start its Pre-Series A investment round within the coming weeks and will begin to seek further investors Based on the previous uptake and achievement timescale, I have no doubt it will be just as fruitful an exercise. With further plans to expand to emerging markets as the UK and EEA experience growth
It’s clear that Atmen has no plans to rest on its laurels and I believe it will be exciting to see what will come from them in the near future. One thing is for certain, Atmen will be” bringing colour to banking” for many years to come.