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Bank Zero targets SA businesses with ‘zero fees’

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 03 Oct 2023
Michael Jordaan, chairman of Bank Zero.
Michael Jordaan, chairman of Bank Zero.

Bank Zero is targeting SA’s business banking market, with the introduction of its commercial offering.

According to a statement, the digital-only bank offers a low-cost, high-security commercial bank account.

Bank Zero offers free basic banking services for businesses. In instances where pricing applies, such as drawing cash at any ATM (R9 per R1 000) and balance enquiry (R2) at a POS or ATM, the same pricing applies to individuals and businesses.

The bank claims its costs are in the region of 85% lower than the packages offered by the big-four banks, which range from R463 to R769 per month.

For larger businesses, the savings grow exponentially, due to higher transaction volumes, it says.

The bank bills itself as the first bank in SA to charge zero fees for EFT payments. It also offers free debit order services and there is no charge for payments made to other Bank Zero customers.

Michael Jordaan, chairman of Bank Zero, says businesses of any size can benefit from Bank Zero's approach to banking.

“Bank Zero is ushering in an innovative new approach far from the legacy ‘me-too’ solutions of traditional banks. We have completely rethought commercial banking, to bring it into the digital age. We’ve built it from the ground up, which means we have no legacy systems that are cumbersome and costly, leading to inefficiency and high bank charges,” comments Jordaan.

The bank says it offers its business customers the ability to change mandates, designated authentication level and ownership structures on a single screen via its mobile app.

Clients also have access to features like downloading transaction histories into spreadsheets and the ability to set up business debit cards for staff members.

Bank Zero Commercial Banking supplies businesses with card machines through a partnership with iKhokha and the device is fully integrated with Xero Accounting, it says.

Bank Zero, which received its licence one year after competitors TymeBank and Discovery Bank, launched to the public in August 2021 after numerous delayed public launches.

The bank is co-founded by its seven investors, including former First National Bank CEO Jordaan, and banking innovator Yatin Narsai.

It does not have any branches and relies largely on the mobile app and website for sign-ups and transactions. It partnered with Checkers, Shoprite, Usave, Spar and Pick n Pay to allow customers to draw or send cash to recipients, with transactions charged at R8.50 per transaction.

Narsai, Bank Zero CEO, points out that getting the bank off the ground was no mean feat.

“Because we were able to design the system as a whole, it works seamlessly with the user in mind. Everything from setting up your in-house banking team, changing mandates and granting access privileges, to making payments, is all done within the app,” notes Narsai.

The bank has a team of in-house ‘relationship bankers’ who do the legwork, and authorisers to approve transactions, he adds.

“The app is designed to enhance productivity, while being very secure. For example, changed account details are flagged, and supporting documents can be added to payments for authorisation. Some business customers also enjoy using our informative scheduled payments and transfers to automate regular payments."

The foundation for doing bulk payments and collections is in place, and will be introduced at a later stage, he notes.