Banking group NatWest is looking to launch a separate digital bank for small businesses in the UK, Bloomberg reported.

As part of the plan, which seeks to create new growth avenues, NatWest will join forces with American private equity firm Warburg Pincus-backed entities via a new joint venture. 

The British bank will form an alliance with Aion, which has a banking licence and operates in several markets including Poland and Belgium. 

Aion was established after Warburg Pincus bought the Belgian arm of Italy’s Monte Dei Paschi di Siena in 2019.

The deal also includes Aion’s technology provider, Vodeno, which is expected to aid NatWest in attracting SMB customers using data.

NatWest could also leverage their technology to offer a banking-as-a-service (BaaS) solution.

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According to the sources, senior leadership within the bank has tentatively backed the plan, but it is still at a very early stage of development.

If the plan materialises, NatWest and Warburg Pincus could infuse capital in the JV to support Aion’s UK expansion. 

NatWest, Aion and Warburg Pincus refused to comment on the development. 

In March this year, the UK government slashed its stake below 50% in NatWest Group, which has been on the lookout for growth opportunities. 

In October 2021, the lender bought the kids’ allowance app RoosterMoney.

It has also held talks with owners of consumer credit firm NewDay, a source familiar with the matter said.