NatWest Bank shutters its app based bank after five months

NatWest is closing its consumer-facing app-based bank, known as Bó, and will focus on its small business digital banking offering, Mettle.

This comes just five months after the lunch of Bó.

In its latest quarterly financial results, NatWest parent Royal Bank of Scotland said the app-based bank will be integrated into mobile-based business account provider Mettle. “After careful consideration, we have made the decision to wind down Bó, and focus on our digital bank for SMEs,” said NatWest. “The technology that underpins Bó will be integrated as we develop Mettle to better support our SME customers, who play such a crucial role in our economy.”

NatWest added that the current Covid-19 pandemic was also a consideration. “This is more critical than ever, given the challenges we are all facing at this time.”

Bo, launched in November, was built in the cloud, separate from NatWest’s systems, with its own Faster Payments connection. It was positioned as a rival to challenger banks in offering the functionality that makes them popular, including money management tools and spending alerts.

NatWest said Bó was designed to help those struggling to manage their money. Bó customers, of which there are about 11,000, have been informed that their accounts will continue to work and they will be given at least 60 days’ notice before they are closed.”

A NatWest spokesperson said: “As a bank, we will continue to test and learn, investing in innovative banking services that will provide a better experience for our new and existing customers, helping them to thrive.”

Through NatWest Ventures, the bank is developing digital products and services for its SME businesses customer base. The unit seeds, incubates and scales up to digital businesses, including Mettle, on behalf of the bank.

Other businesses that are part of the unit include lending SME company Esme Loans, business current account provider Mettle, merchant acquiring business Tyl, Aptimise, which automates invoice payments, as well as a non-financial services company called Path, which provides HR software. All are fully owned by NatWest.