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Digital challenger bank Bó gets the chop after less than six months in existence

Bó bank
(Image credit: RBS)

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has pulled the plug on troubled Bó, it’s own take on digital challenger banking designed to potentially take business away from the likes of Monzo, Revolut and Starling.

In a report released today, RBS has explained that Bó will be absorbed into SME-focussed digital banking platform Mettle, having endured numerous problems since launching in 2019. Issues included having to replace several thousand customer cards due to security issues in conflict with the extended Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) deadline and, more recently, the departures of both CEO Mark Bailie and CPO Ollie Purdue.

The app-only bank has around 11,000 customers, all of which have been sent an email outlining the decision. Meanwhile, a message on the company website states ‘We have taken the decision to wind down Bó and therefore we need to close all customer accounts. Don’t worry, your account will continue to work, your money is safe and we will give you at least 60 days notice before we close your account. We will be keeping our customers up to date with more information soon.’

Fresh challenges

RBS has added that it will wind down Bó as a customer-facing brand in its newly-released Q1 2020 results. Confirming its new focus will be on boosting the fortunes of Mettle, RBS stated “The technology used in Bó will be integrated into Mettle as it is developed.” 

Bó’s low-key arrival in the App Store and its subsequent survival in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic appeared unlikely, although it has proved useful for RBS as a testing and learning platform.

Despite axing Bó, RBS’s chief executive Alison Rose was quick to state that she didn't feel the digital bank had been a failure and what they have learnt can be applied to improving Mettle. “I think our decision to refocus reflects the level of opportunity that we think exists in the SME community, as well as the support we think the segment needs,” she told journalists on a call earlier.

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.