While it is difficult to launch a bank during a pandemic, everything is on track and the numbers look really good, says Discovery chief executive Adrian Gore.
Gore, who was speaking in an interview with Aki Anastasiou as part of MyBroadband’s What’s Next in Finance series, says that Discovery Bank has been on the market for just over a year and that he is pleased with the evolution of bank.
“In many ways, launching a bank during a pandemic is not exactly the ideal context, but it has actually been very good for us,” he said.
“We have rolled out the bank and done the migration of all Discovery cards from FNB to Discovery Bank. The fundamental value proposition of a shared-value bank around people changing their behaviour, managing their money better and being incentivised and rewarded for it is seeing very good traction.”
Gore said that Discovery’s data shows that people are clearing engaging with the bank’s Vitality Money system and are using it to save on things like deposits.
“I am very pleased, I think we are getting the message out there that if you manage your money well, your rates of interest are better and your rewards are better. It is early days, the numbers are good, the behaviours are good and I think we are getting on top of all the other issues.”
Gore that the ‘shared value financial services’ model, which the Discovery group pioneered globally, is becoming its own defined category with more financial institutions looking at the behaviour and how to incentivise behaviour change.
“I see our business in South Africa evolving strongly. We are very optimistic about the bank’s ability to create this kind of ‘composite front-end’ – integrating with us and using us for all of your different issues. (It will be) very easy, very rewarding, very simple.”
Gore said that group has a 2023 goal of being globally best in its class and that this will be reflected in the growth of the bank.
“In South Africa, in five years time, we would like to see the bank at considerable scale and all of our other businesses integrating into a composite. (We want) people to get really good value for managing the money, managing their health and managing their driving.”
While Gore admitted that he was an optimist, and is still optimistic about South Africa, he said that this was not a ‘naive’ optimism and that it was instead important to seek positive signals.
“We are coded to look for negative signals only. I think individuals need to focus on seeking the positive sand not just the negatives and you will make better decisions.”
Gore said that opportunities are also ‘under-priced’ in difficult times. People are distracted, competitors are distracted and asset prices are lower, he said. “Ironically, although it is difficult and takes courage, it is actually easier to build in difficult times.”
He said that the entire world is facing challenging times and that while was important to remain realistic about this, it was also important to be optimistic.
“I have always believed that attitude drives results, not the other way around. I believe that the country has potential. I think leaders have to illustrate leadership, positivity, invest and encourage.
“The talent is here and we have the ability to do that. We are at a difficult time so we need to back the good guys, back investment and growth and we have got to build and not be distracted. We will pull ourselves out of this.”