THE founder of a mobile lender has resigned as chairman.

Anthony Thomson says “it is the right time to step down” at Atom bank, as the Durham City digital operator “moves into a new phase of development”.

He will be replaced by Bridget Rosewell.

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However, Mr Thomson, who is leaving to embark on a travelling adventure linked to his co-authoring of a money marketing book, will remain a shareholder in the bank.

Since launching in 2014, Atom, which is based in Aykley Heads, employs 300 staff and has no plans to open high street branches, says it has taken more than £1bn of deposits and lent in excess of £1bn to small businesses and homeowners.

It previously agreed a £30m deal to ramp up assistance for fledgling companies, following backing from British Business Bank Investments Limited, and pulled off a significant coup when attracting popstar Will.i.am as a board advisor to support its use of technology in the banking sector.

Reflecting on Atom’s foundation in 2014, when Durham City was chosen ahead of five rival sites to become its national headquarters, Newcastle- born Mr Thomson said he couldn’t be prouder of its achievements.

“Since having the idea for Atom in early 2012, it has gone from being a big idea disguised as a small bank, to a big idea and a big bank”, said Mr Thomson.

“I specialise in creating and building and I hope this will be my contribution to the Atom story.

"I have loved doing this with Atom but, as the bank moves into a new phase of development, I feel the time is right for me to step down as chairman.

“As I discuss the messages and learning in the book I have co-authored, I am going to spend much of the next 12 months travelling extensively.

“However, the people at Atom will never be far from my thoughts”, added Mr Thomson, who previously founded Metro, which was the first new high street bank set up in Britain for more than 150 years when it launched in 2010.

Praising Mr Thomson’s impact, Ms Rosewell, whose takeover as chair is subject to regulatory approval, said he will leave a real legacy.

She added: “There are 300 people who will miss Anthony’s unique wit and wisdom, but he leaves the bank in great heart.”

In November, Mr Thomson stood alongside Black Eyed Peas singer Will.i.am as the music star helped promote Atom’s partnership with the Prince’s Trust to boost youngsters’ skills across the science, technology, English, maths (STEM) and digital sectors.

Citing Elon Musk, co-founder of electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and rocket maker Space Exploration Technologies, the performer told The Northern Echo: “If you’re telling a 12-year-old to do STEM, first off, it’s not the cool thing in school.

“But I guarantee they’re the ones that are going to be balling like crazy 20 years from now. Ask Elon Musk, ask Bill Gates, ask everyone who has more money than Jay-Z.

“They are the coolest kids on earth now. Elon Musk is making electric trucks and going to Mars.

"You do that with STEM.

"We need more Elon Musks.”

The singer also praised Atom’s impact on the financial sector as more people switch to digital banking.

He added: “When you come to Durham and you see Atom, you see the future of money management and community building.”