Bank Zero – the app-only mutual bank and brainchild of former FNB chief executive Michael Jordaan, which aims to help South Africans save – finally went live yesterday, three years after receiving its banking licence.
Bank Zero received its license a year after Discovery Bank and Tyme, and its operations were delayed due to rigorous testing including Alpha testing, which was achieved by October 2018, and Beta testing, which followed in April 2019.
Bank Zero chief executive Yatin Narsai said yesterday that the app was now available to customers via the waiting list process on the bank’s website.
“We are responding as fast as possible. This process helps us for now as we continue to operate the bank whilst working from home (WFH) – a world first,” Narsai said.
Narsai is FNB’s former head of IT and retail banking and is also co-founder of Bank Zero with Jordaan.
Bank Zero aims to shake up the banking industry with its zero monthly and annual fees. The bank said it was also the first in South Africa to offer zero fees for EFT payments and debit orders.
The bank said it had officially chosen to be a dedicated savings bank paying decent interest – its driving force was to empower South Africans to save.
“We will provide transactional accounts with a linked debit card along with savings and other cash investment accounts,” said the bank.
To join the bank, customers will have to add their names to the waiting list of the bank’s website and invites will be sent out in batches of around 1 000 at a time.
Bank Zero was not offering credit and was of the opinion the lending segment was saturated, it said on its website.
“We believe there is an oversupply of credit in South Africa. And we believe that through innovation we can start a process of reducing the credit burden of our customers. Certain types of long-term credit, when carefully applied, can lead to growth and we appreciate it when banks offer that facility,” said the company.
Bank Zero said its goal of reducing customers’ debt burden was possible by creating easy ways for financial communities like clubs, families, groups of friends and businesses to save individually or together. The bank also said it would enable customers to become Bank Zero shareholders, thereby generating further savings as well as using its inherent capital efficiency to pass the cost savings back to customers, thereby enabling more disposable income to be directed towards savings.
Individuals and businesses with smart phones can access the bank’s services.
“Bank Zero caters for businesses with turnovers from really small into the billions. Most banks don’t offer the required banking solutions to support businesses. This changes forever with Bank Zero,” the company said.