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6 new banks launching in South Africa soon

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South Africa is expected to see at least six new banks and banking services launch in the coming months, including the likes of Discovery Bank and Bank Zero – a mutual bank co-founded by former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan.

Others include two names South Africans are already familiar with – African Bank, which is planning to launch transactional services, and Postbank, which is the Post Office’s foray into full service banking – and Tyme Digital and the niche Young Women in Business Network Cooperative Financial Institution.

Here’s the latest updates on when the banks are expected to launch:


Discovery Bank

Discovery has offered financial services through FNB for a number of years, but it is now preparing to launch its own full-service bank offering.

Group CEO, Adrian Gore, said in February 2018 that the group was “on track” to launch its bank in 2018, at a cost of R1.5 billion.

The bank will leverage its current services with FNB – of which it has more than 230,000 primary card holders – and is in talks to take over those accounts (pending competition approval). It will compete directly with the big retail banks.

On Monday, it was announced that Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni has resigned from the government department to join Discovery Bank in an executive role, indicating that the bank was getting closer to a full launch. Apleni said he will join Discovery Bank from August 2018.

Speaking to BusinessTech, Discovery said that it was still on track for a launch in the second half of 2018, as previously indicated. “There is currently substantial testing underway and we’re excited to bring our offering to market,” it said.

Discovery had in excess of 3.4 million members according to its 2017 annual report.


Bank Zero

Unlike the other well publicized bank’s entering the market, Bank Zero will operate as a mutual savings bank and not a retail bank.

A mutual bank is owned by its members who subscribe to a common fund while a retail bank is generally owned by shareholders, who may not be customers of the bank. Because of this model, these types of banks tend to be smaller and offer limited services. often focusing on savings, rather than credit.

Bank Zero follows this trend and will not offer credit. It will be entirely digital and handle all of its services and communications via an app. It is going against the traditional banking grain, and targeting a younger, more tech savvy market that wants to do their banking the same way they interact with other digital media.

When Bank Zero was first announced, co-founder Michael Jordaan said the ‘hope’ was that Bank Zero would launch at the end of 2018 – however in subsequent posts to social media, the banking exec indicated that this had moved to “early 2019“.

In response to emails asking about the launch, Bank Zero said that it has gone to ground with all its teams working on creating “the Google of banking”, and no correspondence would be given.


Tyme Digital

It was reported earlier in July that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) – which owns 90% of Tyme Digital – is reviewing its position in the local market, and may sell its stake in Tyme to its local partner, African Rainbow Capital.

Despite the talks of shareholder changes, the bank is still expected to launch. The group has already been operating in South Africa with a money transfer service, and said it plans to launch its full banking services in 2018.

Tyme Digital is targeting retail customers and small, medium and micro enterprises within the low to middle income class.

It has not committed to any specific launch date, with the last message in June 2018 being that “we’re excited to be officially launching towards the end of this year“.


African Bank

African Bank has steadily built up its deposits following  a well documented curatorship, and is gearing itself towards again offering a transactional banking account, called the My World account.

Earlier in the year, the My World account was being tested internally among African Bank employees, with an expected launch date “later” in 2018.

Speaking to BusinessTech, the bank said it is progressing well with its plans to launch a transactional banking product into the South African market with a phased approach expected in the last quarter of 2018 and continuing into 2019.

“The concept of family or community banking is what will differentiate this product and African Bank. This product is priced and structured in a way that will definitely appeal to South Africans,” it said.

“Customers will be able to manage their My World account through the African Bank website, the app, or their cell phone 24/7. The fees on My World will also be extremely competitive. As with our market-leading savings and investment rates, African Bank will continue a trend where additional value is offered to our customers.”


Postbank

Postbank already provides savings accounts and allows for fixed-term deposits and simple transactions, however it has much bigger plans, including extending its services to become a full service bank that can accept deposits and offer cards and other products.

However, to get there, the Post Office first needs to get a banking licence – and at the end of April 2018, it was reported that no decision has yet been taken to grant one, despite hopes that the process would have been completed by then.

According to Telecoms and Postal Services minister, Siyabonga Cwele, the bank should ultimately meet the Reserve Bank’s requirements and be able to conclude its transition to a full bank by March 2019.

Postbank will not compete with the commercial banks, Cwele said, and would hold a more developmental role in the financial services industry.


Young Women in Business Network 

The YWBN is a far more niche banking group that is not targeting ‘big bank’ success. The women-led bank currently operates on a stokvel model of co-operative banking, but is building itself up to becoming a fully-fledged, registered co-operative bank.

Co-operative banks are wholly-owned by their members, who carry the risk. YWBN, specifically, is targeting black entrepreneurs and the informal economy – a sector largely neglected or ignored by the big South African banks.

Executive chair, Nthabeleng Likotsi, said the bank is targeting 1,000 members by February 2019, which is the minimum required by the Reserve Bank for the group to qualify as a co-operative bank.

People can already apply to be a part of the bank, though there is a R10,000 minimum share capital deposit fee, and an annual membership fee of R550. The group gives out loans of up to R100,000.


 

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