What is Mettle? Natwest's digital-only business current account

© Mettle

RBS Group has unveiled its first standalone, digital-only banking service today, a business current account called Mettle.

Aimed at small and medium-sized business customers (SMEs), the bank says it will operate as a standalone unit within the Royal Bank of Scotland group, but is backed internally by high street brand Natwest.

The Mettle mobile app essentially combines a business current account and debit card with simple invoicing, payment chasing and bookkeeping features.

Mettle promises customers the ability to open a business current account in minutes, where typically this would take weeks if done offline.

The mobile app will provide plenty of metrics and handy features, such as spending breakdowns and forecasts, simple invoice creation and expense reporting and payment reminders.

The branding is typical fintech, with a bright yellow card, a lower case 'm' for mettle and a serif font that looks very similar to Moneybox or Monzo's. The premise, look and feel of the service will be familiar to users of apps from independent UK fintech providers like Coconut or Tide.

"With a constantly evolving banking and technology landscape we know we need to adapt in order to offer new customer-focused solutions. The premise for Mettle lets our customers focus on 'forward-looking' finances, combining technology and proactive insights so SMEs can make better decisions and run their businesses more successfully," Alison Rose, chief executive of commercial and private banking at Natwest, said of the launch.

The app has been developed alongside consultancies 11:FS and Capco.

Mettle does not currently hold a banking license so is operating under an e-money licence held by PrePay Solutions (PPS), which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This means deposits will not be FSCS protected.

According to the Financial Times, RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said the bank is looking to modernise its existing IT systems while also creating new standalone products such as Mettle and Bó, a consumer-focused platform that is expected to launch next year, the paper reported.

Other banks are looking to expand their digital product portfolios amidst greater competition from fintech providers and the newly implemented open banking regulations.

HSBC launched a standalone Connected Money app earlier this year, and Barclays now allows its mobile banking users to view accounts from other banks within its mobile app.

Read next: What is open banking? What does it mean for banks, fintech startups & consumers?

At this time Mettle is limited to a maximum account holding of £50,000. Transactions into the account are uncapped (up to the maximum account holding limit), while transactions out of the account are capped at £10,000. Card transactions are limited to £10,000 per transaction, £20,000 a week and £50,000 a month. Cash withdrawals are limited to £500 a day and £4,000 a month. If this poses a problem for your business, we'd love to hear about it.

UK small businesses can apply for early access for the Mettle pilot at mettle.co.uk.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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