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UK digital banks: Name calling

What is it about digital banks in the UK that makes their owners want to give them somewhat odd names?

In the past, bank names were all about solidity, trust, safety and dullness: National Westminster, Trustee Savings. Today banks and fintechs seem to be vying with each other to come up with names that emphasise quite the opposite: Amaiz, Monzo, Zopa, Babb, Ipagoo, Loot and Bank of Dave.

This club has recently been joined by two industry stalwarts: Goldman Sachs has birthed Marcus in the UK and RBS surprises us with the yet-to-launch Bo. Naming its digital bank after its founder was an uncontroversial move for the US bank, although it still manages to retain an air of privilege. Sam (after Samuel Sachs) just wouldn’t have been the same, as well as having unpleasant ‘Son of Sam’ associations. 


And so, to Bo. The UK press is suggesting the name refers to the words meaning ‘to live’ in Danish. Because…?

It also seems to invite a certain amount of ridicule. Perhaps the hope is that Bo will become synonymous with ‘best offer’, ‘born organised’ or ‘business opportunity’. But it could equally be ‘body odour’, ‘bad order’ or, indeed, ‘bowel opening’. Hmmm…

There is, however, one Bo that RBS is famously known for: bailed out. 

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