Given that Atom Bank’s app was underwhelming to say the least at launch, what to expect from the latest announcement that they are to start offering in-app mortgages. It’s the latest trend among banks, both traditional and challenger, with Santander and Nationwide having already proffered such services and Atom now following suit.

As much as it is tempting to slate this, I think it could be very convenient indeed. At some point, some face-to-face contact will be necessary- but I think one would want that anyway, as just about every poll, survey and piece of research seems to suggest with regard to online banking processes. But to remove  a branch visit from the initial equation- in terms of being able to photograph and scan relevant payslips and other documents and set the ball rolling- strikes me as an invaluable and very welcome time saver.

It’s all very well for the straightforward applications. When Santander introduced its re-mortgaging pilot (with a view to extending the service to first time buyers and more by the end of this year), customers were completing the initial process in just over half an hour. And the procedure can be saved and halted if you need to come back to it. This is exactly how I personally would like to go about starting the process.

I’d then be more than happy to continue by video conferencing, this being preferable still to arranging a branch visit- if that is to be available. At this point such things as soft facts can be considered, something which algorithms, as sophisticated as they may be, are far from being able to intuit and interpret into any kind of decision as important as a home loan.

And the fact is more and more of us these days come with soft facts- how circumstances might change- whether there will be supplementary income, say in the form of a lodger to help with the mortgage (can you tell I live in London), etc, etc.

The question has to be, however, with something as serious as a mortgage application- is the average customer going to feel comfortable entrusting a mobile bank with this long term deal? There might be as much work in researching how to safeguard against the failure of the bank as time saved in uploading documents digitally. As much as I am pro this kind of technological advancement, I think I’d sooner wait till my high street bank comes up with the digital mortgage goods.

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