Ollie Purdue, the founder of Loot, the current account aimed at millennials that went into administration last month after running out of cash, is joining Bó, the digital bank being developed by RBS-owned Natwest, TechCrunch as learned.
He’ll take up the position of chief product officer and will lead product development for the new brand, reporting to Bó CEO Mark Bailie. I understand that Purdue is also to be joined by 17 other ex-Loot team members, spanning product, marketing and design functions.
Echoing a crop of fast-growing independent U.K. challenger banks, the yet-to-launch Bó is being built on a new technology stack, operating as a separate unit and tech platform from RBS’ legacy operations. In other words, a startup within but supported by an incumbent bank. I’m hearing from my own sources that the digital bank is already up and running and is almost ready to go live, with around 1,000 RBS employees actively testing the product before a public launch this year.
Meanwhile, that Purdue and almost one-third of the Loot team is joining the RBS venture is particularly intriguing, given that RBS was an investor in Loot and was thought to be close to acquiring the startup before ultimately pulling out of the deal. This led to Loot scrambling for additional funding, which it was unable to obtain in time before running out of cash entirely after existing investors decided not to follow on.
Specifically, Royal Bank of Scotland Group indirectly owned a 25% stake in Loot via an investment by Bó! In January this year, RBS announced that Bó had invested £2 million in Loot following an initial investment of £3 million in July 2018.
It was also presumed by many fintech insiders that Loot had been white-labeled and was powering the Bó product. Clearly that was never the case, leaving questions unanswered around why RBS/Natwest would invest in a competitor, only to see its demise six months later. Now we know that it wasn’t for a lack of talent at Loot, as there appears to be little bad blood between Purdue and RBS. There are always multiple parties and dynamics involved in an acquisition.
To that end, one source tells me that Bailie was the main champion for Loot within RBS and that he was likely a draw for the Loot founder and other members of the Loot team. I also understand that Purdue and team feel they have unfinished business within the consumer digital banking space and that with the full resources of RBS they’ll have an opportunity to continue what they started at Loot.