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Opinion

WhatsApp pours fuel on Metro Bank’s PR fire

Metro Bank’s credibility had been in question for a long time – that is what made it acutely vulnerable to online attack.

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On Thursday lunchtime I decided to take a break from my editorial deliberations and have a stroll down to St Paul’s Cathedral to clear my head. As I was waiting to cross the road at the traffic lights a group of fresh-faced and well-heeled youngsters gathered next to me. “It is so funny!” blared one to his friends over the noise of the traffic. “I know the head of liquidity at Metro Bank and the bank has just gone into liquidation! Liquidity to liquidation!”

Slightly shocked, I checked my phone to confirm this unlikely tale. Which was, of course, not true. But the same exercise has been playing out at warp speed online, after a WhatsApp message was posted online last week declaring that anyone with a Metro Bank account or safety deposit box should empty it as the bank was facing “a lot of financial difficulties".

This message prompted further false rumours that the bank would not open its doors on Monday May 13, and if customers did not retrieve items from their safety deposit boxes by the weekend, their items would be forfeit. Queues of anxious people quickly formed at some of Metro Bank’s London branches.


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