Standard Bank enables mobile sign-up for new MyMo account

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Standard Bank's new MyMo bank account is its first account to be opened using only digital channels.
Standard Bank's new MyMo bank account is its first account to be opened using only digital channels.

Standard Bank has launched a low-cost bank account, MyMo, which customers can open using a mobile device by taking a selfie.

The new transactional bank account has a base fee of R4.95/month and comes with a SIM card and free airtime or data, for the bank's mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Standard Bank Mobile, which launched last November.

"Mobile is the new branch. This account is about bringing the mobile branch into customers' hands; it is about convenience and security while banking," Funeka Montjane, chief executive for personal and business banking at Standard Bank, said at a media briefing in Johannesburg today.

"This is our first fully digitally on-boarded product. If you are an existing customer you can already get a digital loan, etc, but to join the bank, up until now you had to go into a branch. So this is our first fully digitally launched account and it's going to be available though the app on Android and iOS and on the Web site," Montjane told ITWeb in an interview after the briefing.

New customers can open a MyMo account using digital channels and their identity is verified using a selfie that is checked via the Department of Home Affairs' database. The bank said customers without Internet access can open the account by going into a branch where a bank employee will access the Web site to sign up for them.

Montjane said the new account gives customers "the ability to join using the new branch, which is the phone, completely paperless".

"We don't ask for any other details; you just bring yourself and you can start transacting immediately. To do this we have had to invest a significant amount in digital security. We needed a safe form of facial authentication."

Montjane said the bank could have launched its product last year but it spent a lot of time perfecting the security aspects.

"On facial authentication we partnered with a fintech company from Cape Town, One Identity, and we worked for a year to make that it is truly the safest authentication in the market and we also worked with Nok Nok in Silicon Valley," she added.

Competitor First National Bank (FNB) has since May 2018 been enabling customers to open bank accounts using a selfie through its FNB app. In October 2018, Absa also introduced a feature which enabled customers to open a bank account within the bank's mobile app without the need of paperwork or visiting a branch.

The MyMo account comes with a Visa and MasterCard gold card as well as R50 in airtime or 500MB of data a month, provided the card is swiped more than four times a month. A further 1MB of data is loaded for every R20 spent.

Montjane said Standard Bank Mobile plans to start selling mobile handsets from June/July. She told ITWeb they will be from established brands and the bank will not manufacture its own smartphones.

Digitisation journey

"For the last three to five years, we have seen a double-digit decline in our branch transactions, in terms of number of customers that are going to branches, and we have seen a double-digit increase in terms of digital transactions," Montjane said.

"The number of transitions that happen at a branch now makes up less than 1%. So that is why earlier this year we made the decision to close branches, simply because they were empty.

"Most customers like to do things for themselves. If I can do something myself I will do it; if I need assistance I'll go to a branch. We still have a large business bank with very big cash requirements so we do not think we will be a completely branchless bank, but we don't think we need 360 000 square meters of branches," she added.

In terms of the bank's digitisation journey, Montjane told ITWeb the plan is to have a fully digitised bank, which is personalised in the context of the ecosystem.

"We don't want market share of just financial services, we want market share of life. So, we want to be deeply in the ecosystems of our clients and we are giving ourselves three to five years to do that. But in terms of individuals, from a core digitisation, I think we will be there by the end of the year.

"We are in a partnership with Amazon Web Services to do real-time personalisation. We have had a very successful proof of concept and we are putting the solution in production, because I think it's not digital if it's not personalised. We hope this will all land by the end of the year. We will then start some work on smaller enterprises and then we will start looking at larger businesses and commercial companies next year."

Montjane believes that developing comprehensive connected ecosystems will require a mindset change from Africa's banks.

"Banks will evolve away from traditional financial service organisations, into service ecosystems, enabling broad universal access to almost everything like enhanced purchasing experiences of vehicles and homes, online procurement of goods and services and lifestyle elements like rewards and travel. These connectivity drivers will also act to future-proof the evolving connectivity ecosystem by allowing us to offer untold future services while deriving income from as yet unrealised revenue streams," she added.

The MyMo monthly fee of R4.95 comes with free swipes, but for ATM withdrawals, customers will be charged R6.50 for amounts under R1 000. Electronic payments also cost an additional R1.50 and debit orders R3.50 each. To get SMS notifications for activity on the account, the user will be charged a flat rate of R1 a month.

Existing Standard Bank customers are not able to change their account to a MyMo account but the bank is working to make this an option in the future.

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