Metro Bank founder Anthony Thomson has recruited first direct chief Mark Mullen to head a new UK digital bank.
Thomson, who stepped down as Metro Bank chairman in 2012, is planning to launch the new venture, dubbed Atom, next year.
The move into digital-first banking marks an about-turn for Thomson, who was behind the launch of branch-based Metro Bank in 2010, the UK's first new high street bank for over a century.
The launch of Atom, which will be headquartered in the north east of England, comes amid a sharp decline in branch-based footfall as more customers choose to do their banking online and via mobile devices.
"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. "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."
The recruitment of first direct's Mullen marks a coup for Thomson. A social-media savvy former head of marketing at the UK online and telephone bank, Mullen moved into the CEO seat in September 2012. During his tenure at first direct Mullen set the path for the bank's acclaimed move into social media when it became the first to offer an open forum to customers. He resigned from the bank just last month.
Says Thomson: "Atom will be led and governed by an experienced and imaginative team who have a passion for people and know what it takes to put the customer at the heart of an organisation. Together we will offer our personal and business customers both better customer service and better value."