If you’ve ever wondered: what is Bobbob, who decided on the name or what does Bobbob mean, you’re not alone. This is a frequent set of questions the team receives via our in-app messenger, social media comments and at the occasional barbeque (when we get out).
This piece aims to quench the thirst for knowledge and appease the inquisitive set of our current and soon-to-be customers about the genesis of Bobbob as a company, Bobbob as a name for the company, and how to pronounce it.
A new internet era where finance and technology collided
To answer the most frequented question first, we’ll begin with the name.
In South Africa, where I grew up as a kid (or lightie as my father’s generation say), there was (and still is) a great bank called FNB, First National Bank. They’re part of the First Rand Bank Group, a monolith of a business with an epic story and a generational and world-renowned knack for all things finance.
Setting the scene, this is the era where cash is king, and bank cards are only just trickling in—a new technological advancement making cold hard cash digital…
For some or other reason, FNB called their bank cards “Bob” cards!
So, this is what my mom and dad called what we call a debit card.
More so, cash machines, referred to by regular humans as ATMs, you guessed it, were also called “Bob” machines.
So one would take their Bob card to a Bob machine, and your magic internet money would produce hard (only in the tangible sense), physical currency.
I like to think it was an ingenious way to make easier the psychologically-hard shift for millions of people from a Cash monetary system to a Digital monetary system by personifying the unfamiliar system, making it relatable, trustworthy and testable.
Remember, during this time, people were expected to move away from getting their salary paid via cheque, cashing it out at a branch and spending cash, to being paid into a BSB/Account Number and spending this once-tangible cash via a card. That’s a massive leap of faith needed. So why not try calling the unfamiliar ‘Bob’?
It was a phenomenon, it was colloquial but classy, and it brought in the age of cards and machines, gadgets, gizmos and the internet to millions.
This is how I like to think of it, but I was 6 years old, so whether it’s true or not, who really knows… but it’s a pretty good story.
In the UK, a ‘Bob’ used to be the slang term for a shilling, a unit of currency. One shilling was the equivalent to twelve pence, and £1 (one pound) equalled 20 shillings. So if my understanding is correct, a Bob was 5 cents (when 5 cents was worth something, not a paperweight).
The usage of the word ‘Bob’ for shilling dates back to the late 1700s, and now is used colloquially as a full Pound or Dollar.
The phrase ‘Two Bob’ meant exactly that—two shillings—but is sometimes now used when denoting 20 cents, or slightly more than a small sum of money.
So we derived Bobbob from finance-related origins, personifying, humanising and simplifying the next shift in finance and technology, from one system to the next.
We’re at an inflexion point in finance. The world produced web 3. It’s unbelievably useful, for everyone, but it’s scary, hard and confusing, meaning most people won’t be able to reap it’s benefits, like low cost, near-instant international payments, the credit ecosystem which is bubbling and where demand outstrips supply…
The name was meant to be Lyra, based on a song I heard with no significance whatsoever. Besides, it is an awesome 4 letter name that makes you smile when you pronounce it, however, the domain name was taken, so off to work we went.
We’ve heard “Bo-Bob”, “Bubbub” and “BoBo” so we’re pretty thick-skinned.
How we pronounce it… “Bob Bob”, but you’re free to pronounce it as you wish.
We hope to take Australia and the world from one way of doing finance to a better and fairer one, in an approachable and simple way, with a relatable product and relatable brand.
Will we outgrow the name Bobbob and into something different in the future? Probably, but we’ll leave that up to you, our customers, to decide.