TymeBank hits 50,000 customers – and it hasn’t even launched yet

CEO of TymeBank, Sandile Shabalala says that the new digital banking group is looking to radically change the way South Africans access banking services in the country – and has run its first full store activation in preparation for its official launch.

TymeBank ‘soft launched’ in late 2018, opening up the platform for customers to sign up to, with a few of the group’s kiosks available in select areas. Since then it has already signed up 50,000 customers, Shabalala said.

The group’s official launch is expected in the coming months.

The bank operates on a partnership model, with Pick n Pay and Boxer stores in South Africa, which will offer a physical point of presence for customers, in places where they frequent, providing easy access.

Speaking at the BusinessTech Digital Banking Conference on Wednesday, Shabalala said that this partnership was forged on a fundamental level, and gives the bank 750 points of presence through the retailer’s network, and access to 10,000 cash till points – “or ATMs if you want to call them that,” he said.

This gives the bank access to an extensive network, without having to spend a cent on building its own infrastructure, the CEO said.

The digital banking challenge

According to Shabalala, the big challenge for digital banking is to remove the barriers that clients face with traditional banks – being physical access to banks, financial access, as well as emotional blocks like complexity and trust.

Shabalala said that banking needs to move away from being something that people ‘have to do’, and become a part of what they do on a daily basis, integrated into their lifestyles.

This is a space that digital banks can excel at because they do away with roadblocks like branches and branch infrastructure, and can expand their services beyond banking – like partnering with retailers.

Shabalala said that partnerships are difficult to do because the partners are invariably not as invested in your business as you are, and it is incredibly difficult to fully integrate them into core systems.

However, he said that it is possible when both groups look at common areas of expertise and focus on those aspects while leveraging technology to build the systems to do it.

As an example, Shabalala highlighted how Pick n Pay’s Smart Shopper programme has already been fully integrated into TymeBank, saying that there are many other aspects of the partnership that TymeBank will explore in the future.

Read: TymeBank – everything you need to know about South Africa’s first digital-only bank

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TymeBank hits 50,000 customers – and it hasn’t even launched yet