RBS shutters Bó after just six months

© RBS

Less than six months after launch, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is cutting its losses on digital challenger brand , shutting the service with immediate effect.

All 11,000 customers received an email today saying: "We have taken the decision to wind down Bó and therefore we need to close your account.

"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 back in touch soon with more information."

The writing has been on the wall for the app-only bank since the project was rocked by two major departures in recent months.

Former chief operating officer Mark Bailie left RBS in January, having led the project since inception in 2018, and chief product officer Ollie Purdue, who came to the bank via Loot – the RBS-backed fintech startup that went bust earlier this year. Purdue has since moved into venture capital by joining Antler.

Launched under the Natwest banking licence, Bó customers received a yellow contactless debit card paired with a mobile app which organises transactions with the aim of helping customers to save money, including setting spending budgets and a piggy bank for savings, but without accruing interest.

Read next: Natwest's newly launched Bó app looks a lot like Monzo

By borrowing from the existing challenger bank playbook, Bó did little to set itself apart in a crowded field and amidst a devastating global pandemic, new CEO Alison Rose clearly considered the project non-essential.

“The circumstances have changed,” Rose told Yahoo Finance. “We’ve always said that we will look to innovate. Clearly in the current situation we’ve had to make prioritisation choices around where we should invest and what we should do to support our existing customers.”

Internally, RBS will turn its attention to another digital challenger, the business banking service Mettle, which was launched in November 2018. The Bó team will be moved over to work on Mettle.

"Bó was always going to have a tough time attracting customers given the crowded nature and maturity of the digital banking market in the UK," Sarah Kocianski, lead researcher at financial services consultancy 11:FS told Techworld over email.

"It needed to find a way to stand out and differentiate itself from the digital-only banks, the banking service providers without licenses – like Monese, Revolut – and indeed Natwest, which has a robust digital offering. It clearly failed to do so, hence the shuttering of the brand."

This story, "RBS shutters Bó after just six months" was originally published by Techworld.com.

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