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UK’s Atom Bank makes first acquisition, Grasp, to hone its youth-focused user experience

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A day after Finnish online bank Holvi got acquired by BBVA, here comes yet more consolidation in Europe’s fintech landscape. Today, Atom Bank — a still stealth, online-only startup, coincidentally also backed by BBVA — announced its first acquisition: Grasp, a design and development house based out of the north of England.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, an Atom spokesperson told me. Grasp had already been working with Atom as an outside agency, creating the “shop window” for Atom, in the words of Edward Twiddy, Atom’s Chief Innovations Officer. So this is partly about bringing more of that relationship in-house to work on deeper projects. As part of the deal, the head of Grasp, Brian Jobling, will become Atom’s business development director.

Grasp bills itself as a provider of “bespoke digital services for the banking industry”, but as Atom points out it has worked on projects also for car-centric organizations F1 and NASCAR, as well as MTW and the James Bond franchise.

When we first wrote about Atom last year — on the occasion of a $128 million funding injection led by Spanish banking giant BBVA — we noted that the still-stealth startup was trying to disrupt traditional banking by targeting younger users. It’s trying to do so by creating a service that is more in sync with how younger users interact and get things done today.

In Atom’s view, that includes creating mobile apps as the primary form of communications between the bank and customers; but also by incorporating gamification, 3-D visualizations and other features to get customers to use its services more.

“Our first conversations with Brian about what gaming and the North East development industry could offer, started in the Spring of 2014 when Atom was just an idea. Now on the cusp of going live and after several months of testing, we are bringing some of the best in digital design and development into the heart of the family,” said Twiddy in a statement. “It’s great to have found such a talented and dedicated team. Their work is our shop window and we’re really excited about what has already been built, and all the future promises.”

User experience and how that can be employed to grow Atom’s customer base are essentially the areas Grasp will be working on as part of Atom.

“Atom Bank is one of the most exciting projects in the North East,” said Jobling in a statement. “An amazing development environment has already been created at Atom and it’s great to be part of a business with such enthusiasm and drive. Atom is rapidly expanding its development team and there isn’t a better place for top quality developers to hone their trade.”