Michael Jordaan sheds new light on how his branchless bank will work – including this one big feature

Former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan has shed further light on how his latest venture, Bank Zero, will work when it launches in 2019.

A government gazette published earlier in September confirmed that Bank Zero has officially been registered as a Mutual Bank in South Africa. According to the notice, the registration officially took effect from 17 August 2018 – indicating that it’s on track to meet its early 2019 launch date.

In a podcast interview with The Grey Ave this week, Jordaan, who is founder of MonteGray Capital and who serves as Partner at AngelHub Ventures, outlined how the branchless digital only bank will work.

“We are in the final stages of getting our licence with the Reserve Bank,” he said. “What happens after that, is the integration to the various payment systems of South Africa so that you can, for example, have your card swiped anywhere, your card used at their ATM to draw cash, and that you can have debit orders and/or make payments to other banks.”

The big feature, Jordaan said, “is the incredibly low cost base.” He alluded to the low cost of setting up a digital banks, as an enabler to keeping costs down, and transferring them on to the customer.

“Our name is a bit of a giveaway – Bank Zero,” Jordaan said. “We do think that electronic transactions should be free. We would like to make all electronic transactions, and that includes card swipes, free.

Jordaan said that as a customer of the bank, one would need to have a relatively advanced smartphone.

“We would like to build in additional security features, for example finger prints, or other forms of biometrics which could be facial recognition, voice recognition, and location is quite important for us.

“We think that modern smartphones have many security features that many banks don’t have,” he said.

Jordaan said that the bank will be targeted at a segment in the market that is either young, tech savvy enough, “or irritated enough by high bank fees”.

Although Bank Zero will still adhere to all regulatory requirements, he said there are clever ways to use technology to make it easier for a customer to use.

“We want to make the bank account opening and switching process as hassle free as possible for new customers,” he said.

“We have also come up with 13 new features that we haven’t seen banks in the rest of the world adopt.” He didn’t elaborate on them, saying that they would be revealed at launch.

“It’s not just about price or fees, it will be about new functionality that mobility enables.”

Jordaan said that the bank will not have lending facilities at launch. “We want to first focus on the lower risk parts of the market. We think the market is already well served with lending.

“We want to particularly incentivise good saving through good rates on deposits, and we want to particularly attack payments in South Africa” he said.

The bank’s website also states the following:

  • There will be no branches.
  • To access cash, customers can use ATMs locally and internationally. Cash-out at major local retailers will also be available.
  • All processes have been designed from the ground up with digital interaction in mind.
  • All communication will be app-driven. Email communication will also be available.
  • Customers can become shareholders, based on the type of savings products they have.


Read: FNB wary of new banking entrants Discovery and BankZero

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Michael Jordaan sheds new light on how his branchless bank will work – including this one big feature