The UK’s first digital only bank has seen overwhelming interest for its Government-backed Covid loans helping it reach its 2020-2021 lending targets one month ahead of plan.

To date, Durham-based Atom have issued 1,251 quotes for their secured Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) loans using their Quick Quote tool. It has resulted in over 700 applications with a value of well over £500m, which includes £150mn received in the past week.

With simple, transparent and competitively-priced secured business lending products, and a history of lending to UK SMEs since 2016, Atom claims to be a leading provider of secured commercial finance to new and existing customers throughout the pandemic.

Atom has continued to originate their own Business Secured Lending, alongside the Government-backed CBILS scheme, with £52m of lending to 132 businesses.

In total, Atom has seen a tripling of the value of business loans on its balance sheet in the last 12 months to reach a current position of £700mn.

Driven by this surge in business lending activity and the bank’s continuing growth in high value mortgage lending, Atom is on course to achieve 100bps of Net Interest Margin (NIM) by the end March 2021 and to break even during the second half of financial year 2021/22.

Having surpassed the year’s lending target Atom is now focussing on supporting applicants to the offer stage and then completion against the deadlines of the CBILS scheme.

Following announcements in The Budget that the government support for business lending will continue under a new scheme, Atom will be applying to be an eligible lender in the new Recovery Loan Scheme, and plans to be offering competitively priced loans to new and existing customers under the RLS as soon as possible.

In the meantime the bank is also pushing ahead with automating its application and decisioning processes for complex secured business lending. Following a month in beta, Atom launched its web portal for all business loan applications at the beginning of March, and continues to automate its end to end secured lending process with the support of the £10m award it won from the Banking Competition Remedies Capability & Innovation Fund.

David Castling, Atom’s Director of Intermediary Lending, said: “We issued our first quotes under the CBILS scheme back in May 2020 with little knowledge that the scheme would be around for nearly a full year.

“The speed of response of both the bank and our broker community in pulling together to provide much needed finance to businesses in the UK has been nothing short of phenomenal. To have issued £1bn of quotes on complex lending is an astonishing effort, and I’m delighted that we have been able to take £0.5bn of applications over the same period. Having hit our ambitions early, and with more help for business confirmed in The Budget, now is the right time for us to focus on getting CBILS applications turned into loans in the hands of SMEs.”