RBS Takes On Challenger Banks With Launch Of Digital Banking App

RBS Starts Standalone Banking App Bó

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has created an app called with the intention of helping people save money, as well as to compete with other online banking startups, like Starling or Monzo.

Reuters is reporting that the app will alert users if they overspend, and it’s targeted at people who have less than $128 in savings account money.

Bó CEO Mark Bailie said the project could bring RBS cheaper funding by building up deposits, but he didn’t reveal how much money the company spent on it. Other banks in the region have also been developing newer digital services as well.

RBS, which is mostly owned by the state, also has an offshoot called NatWest, which has 16 million customers. Bailie said within a few years he wants a “material” number of customers, comparable to NatWest.

“A few hundred thousand customers doesn’t make any difference to the bank,” he said.

Banking startup apps are poaching customers from banks in bigger and bigger numbers, but big banks like HSBC and Nationwide are still the biggest players in the sector.

The news about Bó comes as RBS was named one of the worst banks when it comes to IT issues. Bó has been available since Nov. 14 after a testing phase that involved about 3,500 customers. The company will not offer interest on deposits, and it plans to begin advertising in January.

The app has been attacked by hackers a few times, Bailie said, and it has drafted RBS for help with the issue.

“We’re blocking them at the front door,” Bailie said.

Bó uses machine learning to help with spending habits, and it analyzed 1.5 billion pieces of NatWest data to help it learn.

“We’ve got a big data set, and the data set says that customers have a broken relationship with money,” Bailie said.