Atom investigates blockchain for mortgages

Atom Bank is partnering with researchers from Newcastle University to research issues of security and data and create a toolkit to help businesses design appropriate interactions with customers.

One of the first applications of the research will be in the development of blockchain to build better mortgages, drawing on blockchain expertise from Newcastle University’s Computer Science department and crypto-statisticians at the Durham University’s Department of Mathematical Sciences.

The three-year ‘FinTrust’ project is funded by a £1.2 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, now part of UK Research and Innovation. It is one of eleven projects being funded as part of an £11 million campaign to support research in areas that present challenges in accessing and using personal data.

The UK’s first bank built exclusively for smartphones and tablets is embarking on a million-pound project with computer science, psychology and banking experts to understand why customers distrust technology.

Aad Van Moorsel, professor in cyber security at Newcastle University and project lead, explained: “Modern-day financial services will increasingly rely on ‘robo-advice’, in which smart algorithms will make automated decisions about mortgages and other financial matters in seconds, but no-one knows if computers rather than humans making decisions increases the risk of bias against certain groups of people and whether this could lead to new forms of financial distress and financial exclusion.

“This innovative project will explore how consumer trust in banks and financial services can be enhanced while retaining the benefits of mobile banking that we now take for granted,” he added.

Edward Twiddy, chief innovation officer at Atom Bank said: “As more and more of us choose to use mobile banking and interact using bots driven by artificial intelligence, we need to know how to create relationships based on trust between companies and customers.

“There are massive benefits for customers from better use of personal data, but realising these benefits has to be done in a secure way, without bias and ultimately in a manner that builds and maintains trust,” he added.

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