Michael Jordan’s Bank Zero Plans a Controlled Launch

"It is likely to be a controlled launch where we only allow a limited number of customers in, learn from their feedback to improve and then iterate with more newcomers."

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Michael Jordaan
Michael Jordaan, co-founder and Chairman of Bank Zero

Bank Zero, a start-up by mostly former First National Bank (FNB) staffers chaired by venture capitalist Michael Jordaan, is planning a mid-2020 controlled launch.

The digital bank had initially planned to launch eight months ago.

Today, Bank Zero – which is set to compete with fellow newcomers TymeBank and Discovery Bank – revealed to the Sunday Times that it is “really not focused on any competitor out there” but “rather the team is building a great mobile customer experience with a range of globally unique features.”

“So, the focus is on customers, including businesses, not on competitors,” said Jordan.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Jordan said the bank is still eyeing a mid-2020 launch.

“It is likely to be a controlled launch where we only allow a limited number of customers in, learn from their feedback to improve and then iterate with more newcomers.

“Techies call this a beta launch and it is the accepted norm in places like Silicon Valley.”

Discovery Bank launched in June 2019.

In February, Discovery Bank proudly stated that deposits had grown strongly to R1.2 billion; total credit card spend was R2.6 billion and total credit limits granted was R2.5 billion – with over R1 billion in credit facility used.

But the bank, which is powered by the country’s largest medical aid provider Discovery Health, is not enticing enough customers as compared to its rival TymeBank.

Discovery disclosed on Thursday that as at 18 February 2020, Discovery Bank had 78 000 clients with 180 000 accounts, nearly half of which had never held a Discovery Card before. For more read: Discovery Bank Is Struggling To Attract Customers

While, South Africa’s first fully digital bank TymeBank is adding 3 500 and 4 000 customers per day, with about 40% of bank accounts being active leveraging the use of digital biometric technology to make banking simple and affordable.

The bank, which is backed by billionaire Patrice Motsepe, has on-boarded 500 000 customers as of 30 June 2019.

As of 31 December 2019 the bank, which is backed by billionaire Patrice Motsepe, had cumulatively signed-up 1.1 million customers, of whom 440 000 were actively using their accounts. For more read: Patrice Motsepe’s Firm Invests R300-m in Digital Bank TymeBank

TymeBank is owned by African Rainbow Capital (ARC) Financial Services Holdings, a company within Motsepe’s Ubuntu-Botho Investments stable. For more read: TymeBank, SA’s first fully digital bank, is Adding 3,500 Customers a Day

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