FNB wary of new banking entrants Discovery and BankZero

First National Bank’s dominance in South Africa was underlined by its CEO, Jacques Celliers, at an event in Sandton on Wednesday morning, when he pointed out that a third of cards swiped in the country are FNB owned.

However, Celliers said that the bank faces competition from a number of new players, set to enter the market in the next few months.

FNB has won plaudits for its digital innovation over the past several years, and on Wednesday, it announced that consumers and businesses will now be able to open an account with FNB by simply taking a selfie through its app.

Additional innovations include the launch of eBucks Travel on the FNB App which incorporates a fully-fledged travel offering, nav» Money, a digital money management solution that helps customers improve their financial health daily and Credit Card functionality that allows customers to courier and track card delivery on the FNB App.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our 180-year history as we move beyond being a digital innovator to a broader contextual platform disruptor. It is through this contextually helpful platform that we can offer holistic financial solutions and become a trusted partner to the broader society. This will enable us to help create a better world for years to come,” Celliers said.

FNB’s announcement comes just as five new banking options are set to shake-up the market – three entirely new, while two established brands are relaunching.

The new entrants include two digital-only banks – TYME Digital and Michael Jordaan’s BankZero – as well as a full service bank in the form of Discovery Bank. Postbank and African Bank, meanwhile, will relaunch with retail banking services.

Bank Zero has been granted a provisional licence by the South African Reserve Bank and is set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018.

TymeDigital by Commonwealth Bank SA,said it hopes to be operational by the second quarter, while Discovery has begun live-testing its banking capabilities, testing “system infrastructure, operating processes and regulatory engagement”.

The insurer will launch its proposed banking offering to the public during 2018, it said.

When asked what keeps him awake at night, Celliers pointed to new entrants, likely to be led by Discovery, while former FNB CEO, Jordaan is likely to provide a fresh digital challenge for the incumbents. Celliers said that the competitor spirit, from ‘both big and small’ will shake-up the industry.

Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business said that a raft of new fintechs coming out of Cape Town’s garages “is clever”. “It inspires our thinking,” he said as the group continues to innovate to stay ahead of the pack. “The fintech stuff happening is interesting,” he said,”it keeps us on our toes” and is healthy for the banking sector. “It’s going to make us more competitive,” Vacy-Lyle said.

Read: 5 big new banks you can expect to see in South Africa this year

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FNB wary of new banking entrants Discovery and BankZero