A MOBILE bank founded in the North-East will drive change in future global money management, its superstar board advisor has told The Northern Echo.

Will.i.am says Atom Bank will re-define the financial sector as its growing reputation matches expanding services.

The Black Eyed Peas performer also revealed Atom is a “lesson learned” as an investor, adding he couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to be part of “something so transformational”.

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Atom, which has no plans to open high street branches, bills itself as the UK’s first digital-only bank, offering services such as savings accounts, business lending and mortgages via apps for customers’ mobile phones, tablets and laptops.

Employing more than 300 people from its base in Aykley Heads’ Rivergreen Centre, on the outskirts of Durham City, the bank has attracted strong shareholder support, with BBVA, Woodford Investment Management and Toscafund Asset Management all backing the endeavour.

However, the lender also counts singer and media personality Will.i.am as an advisor, with part of his remit to support Atom’s use of technology in the banking market.

Speaking to the Echo yesterday during the launch of a skills drive to get hundreds of youngsters studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), Will.i.am, said Atom is leading the way in terms of next generation banking.

He said: “We live in a cashless society and Atom sees the future.

“I don’t have money in my pocket, but I have a lot of money.

“I don’t have to use physical cash anymore, so with that, the whole concept of banking has changed.

“When you go to New York and you see bankers, you see bankers.

“When you come to Durham and you see Atom Bank, you see the future of money management, asset management and community building.

“You don’t see bankers and that’s awesome.”

Eyebrows were raised earlier this year when Will.i.am, who is also known for being a judge on TV show The Voice, was announced as an Atom advisor, with some questioning the exact nature of his role.

However, the celebrity, who previously founded the I.am.angel foundation in the US to provide educational opportunities for youngsters, said such issues were of no concern, pointing to his background in advising household brands such as Coca-Cola.

He said: “Whether or not the public knows my contributions when I advise, that is really not that important.

“I like to be a good partner.

“Whether I’m advising for Intel, Cola-Cola or the Pepsi Company, the counsel is important, rather than for people to know exactly my contributions.

“That’s when the ego sets in and I’m not really doing my job.

“What matters is the thinking and the brainstorming, and looking around corners to anticipate problems.

“You can’t just give your opinion without ways to the next steps.

“That is what I take pride in.”

The singer also revealed his involvement with Atom has helped assuage a missed opportunity with online service Airbnb, which allows people to lease or rent properties on a short-term basis.

He said: “I invested in Tesla early on and invested in Twitter and Pinterest early on too, but there’s a couple I missed out on.

“That was because I applied my limited perspective of what I like in life and it kept me out of an investment.

“My counsel at the time with Airbnb was that I love hotels and the concierge, I like 24-hour room service and spas, and I don’t see this product being a product.

“I was wrong and every time I see the people from Airbnb, I share that story.

“(When it came to Atom), I worked with a fellow by the name of Ron Conway, from SV Angels, and he said, ‘Will, there’s a company I think you should check out and I think you should invest’.

“They were just about to take off and when Atom came around, I was like ‘wow, here’s a new company, taking a new approach by being mobile only’.

“I’m set in my ways with banking and I hope to apply what I’ve experienced from not being financially literate to knowing how to grow money, so that when they go out and get customers, financial literacy is part of the mission.

I didn’t want to miss out on something so transformational like I did with Airbnb.

“Atom is the Airbnb for banking, it’s the Uber for banking.

“Both those companies transformed transportation and lodging and Atom will transform money management, asset management because banking is probably not the word for the future.”