Just six months after its launch, app-based digital banking brand, Bó is being shut down by RBS.

Launched as a competitor to fintech startups Revolut, Starling and Monzo, Bó was introduced in November 2019 with a bright yellow card and apps on the Google and Apple app stores.

The bank attracted just 11,000 customers in the time since its launch, putting it a long way from rivals such as Revolut and Monzo who boast millions of customers each.

RBS has said that Bó will instead be merged with fellow group-owned brand, Mettle, a digital bank for the SME market.

Speaking on a call with journalists, RBS CEO, Alison Rose insisted “Bó hasn’t failed…we have decided to merge [it] with our digital bank for SMEs, Mettle”.

The decision comes with the news that RBS’ profits have halved in the first quarter of 2020, a sign of the strain put on the economy by measures to manage the spread of Coronavirus.

Rose said that, “we never undertook a consumer launch or introduced any type of acquisition targets [for Bó],” whilst admitting that the 11,000 customers the brand did have were reliant on ‘friends and family of the bank’.

Bó had a bumpy start when rumours began to appear that then CEO, Mark Bailie would be vacating his role as early as January, just months after the brand’s launch.

Speaking to CNBC, a spokesperson for rival brand, Starling said, “we’re very sorry to see Bó go…we’re glad to see that RBS has said the lessons from Bó will be valuable for its other products.”

Analysis – Bó didn’t answer the crucial customer question

‘Why should I become a customer?’ It’s the question that every new brand needs to answer and it looks like RBS failed to answer this question satisfactorily with the launch of Bó.

It launched with stiff competition. Monzo, Revolut and Starling have all enjoyed successes, partly as a result of being early entrants into the market, but also thanks to some smart marketing.

To launch a new app-based bank, RBS needed to do more than just be another app-based bank. It looks like the group failed to position Bó as sufficiently different to more established brands in the market and as a result, customers simply didn’t take notice.

At launch, Bó CEO, Mark Bailie said “our data suggest that three-quarters of people in the UK are living financially unsustainable lives. We want to help change this.”

It was a noble mission but the brand struggled to convince customers that Bó was the bank to help them to take back control of their financial lives. The fact is that the likes of Starling, Monzo and Revolut have all offered apps providing customers with smart ways to manage their money, Bó was always going to struggle to differentiate itself in this way.