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Facebook at Work gets new client in Royal Bank of Scotland

Facebook at Work, the company's social network for business communications, is gaining traction across the pond.

The Royal Bank of Scotland will roll out Facebook at Work—which lets businesses create their own social platform for employees — to 30,000 of its employees by March 2016, and to all of its employees by the end of next year.

"I'm excited about how bringing people together from all across the bank through Facebook At Work can help all our employees do their job better – whether it's being able to find answers to customer queries much faster or helping us come up with bright new ideas," Simon McNamara, RBS's Chief Administrative Officer said in a press release.

Gaining the RBS seal of approval is a key win for Facebook, as the company looks to leverage its popularity with everyday users into enterprise technology, entering an entirely new market. Almost 300 other companies, including Heineken, Century21 and French Lagardere, are also testing the service.

"We hope Facebook At Work will help RBS, which employs 100,000 people, bring staff closer together and allow them to collaborate on projects much more effectively," Sean Ryan, Facebook's VP of platform partnerships said in the release.

With Facebook at Work, the social network is going head to head with tech giants like Microsoft, with its Office suite and Yammer; Google, which offers Google for Work; and enterprise messaging startup Slack. Although right now the new service is aimed at improving communications within a company, it could one day challenge LinkedIn's network of professionals.

Research firm Gartner estimates that global spending for enterprise software will be $338.7 billion in 2015. Facebook is betting that, with more than 1.49 billion people already using its service personally, it can win a chunk of that market.

Facebook at Work's desktop platform and mobile apps look and feel similar to regular Facebook, but are ad-free and do not collect user data.

For now, Facebook is offering the service for free, but plans to offer a premium subscription version with additional features that may include integration with other business tools and analytics.

This strategy marks an important shift for Facebook, which has always opted to sell ads against its user base, instead of charging a subscription fee.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Facebook at Work's policy on user data.