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Red tape? What red tape, asks Atom Bank boss

City A.M. Monday, 21 November 2016
Up and coming lenders are not facing as many regulatory hurdles as you might think, the boss of one of the UK's newest challenger banks has said today.

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry annual conference,  Mark Mullen, chief executive of Atom Bank, noted that the "regulatory hurdles have got better", not worse, since the financial crisis and "the regulator is doing its bit" to increase competition across the sector.

Mullen's words come in the same month that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) revealed the names of 18 firms it had chosen to join its so-called regulatory sandbox, which is designed to allow firms to innovate with fintech ideas in a space where the watchdog can still keep an eye on their developments. 

*Read more*: Bye-bye Dodd-Frank? What Trump's win means for the banking red tape

Instead, Mullen pinpointed the greatest barrier to entry to the industry as "raising capital...it's still a very expensive business to get into".

Mullen, whose mobile-only bank officially launched to all customers last month, added 12qthe lack of people switching accounts was still a problem.

"You join it when you're nine, you check out when you're 90," the challenger bank boss said of the current state of play.

*Read more*: Better, not less, red tape would really help financial firms

Speaking alongside Mullen, Matt Hammerstein, managing director, head of customer & client experience at Barclays UK, welcomed challengers onto the scene, pointing out that the "consumer choices that they're highlighting" helped his bank to drive and expand its own offering.

Hammerstein confessed that people's quibbles with the banking status quo was partly "our fault as an industry for maybe getting a little more complacent than we should have been", adding the days when people would pick their bank based on which branch was around the corner from them were well and truly gone. 
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