Bank Zero is ‘now fully open for business’

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South Africa's newest digital bank, Bank Zero, says it has experienced rapid uptake in customer sign-ups and steady growth in card transactions since it officially launched in August.

After experiencing several hiccups leading up to its public launch, the digital-only bank says it has since run smoothly, garnering customers “in the thousands”, with some product offerings exceeding expectations.

According to the bank, the online shopping facility is the most popular feature on its banking app, with card subscriptions growing rapidly, while the purchasing of prepaid items is also increasing at a fast pace.

Bank Zero CEO Yatin Narsai tells ITWeb the bank has seen its customer sign-ups grow 30-fold, from a small base during its beta testing phase, to its current numbers, which have not been disclosed.

"Bank Zero followed a gradual growth path from beta testing up to the controlled public debut. Customer volumes exceeded our expectations, especially in business banking. We’re now entering the exciting phase where we're fully open for business," notes Narsai.

The app-driven bank started its alpha testing phase among staff members in October 2018, followed by its beta testing phase in 2019, when it launched its card go-live and ran retailer readiness among a small group of citizens.

Described as “a unique and fresh approach to banking”, Bank Zero says it does not have entry-level accounts. Instead, it offers a "segment-agnostic" approach, which provides individual and business customers with access to all services, such as zero fees for EFT payments and debit order services, and no charge for airtime purchases and payments made to other Bank Zero customers.

Bank Zero CEO Yatin Narsai.
Bank Zero CEO Yatin Narsai.

While the bank opened to the public almost two months ago, it has only been operating on a waiting list basis, meaning customers who signed up had to wait for approval first (to check all back-end process are working well prior to on-boarding each customer).

After doing extensive hands-on monitoring and checks on its digital customer support processes, the bank says from today it has removed the pre-approval process and now allows sign-ups within five minutes.

Claimed to be the first bank in the world to be launched by a fully work-from-home team, the bank says public access was initially limited, as all its 30 staff members were working remotely.

Michael Jordaan, Bank Zero chairman, comments: “It’s wonderful to see how customers are voting with their money. We’ve already seen significant deposits flowing into Bank Zero so early in its lifecycle. After an incredibly smooth start, Bank Zero is now fully open for business. Our launch is no longer constrained.”

According to Jordaan, the bank’s patented highly-secure card technology has already been tested by cyber criminals, but it has proven its resilience by stopping potentially fraudulent transactions.

The Bank Zero mobile app caters for South African businesses with a small turnover to the billions; however, the bank says it does not on-board listed companies and public sector-linked companies.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the higher-than-expected number of businesses registering during the closed rollout − mostly private companies, followed by close corporations and then sole proprietors,” concludes Narsai.

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