Bank Zero Edges Closer

Beta testing is well underway, just months after licence was granted

Bank Zero has officially implemented its powerful EFT payments capabilities and started full end-to-end Beta testing ahead of the bank’s launch in the second half of 2019. Bank Zero is now processing payments and debit orders efficiently and securely, as well as facilitating purchases of prepaid items such as data, airtime and electricity.

Bank Zero’s innovations and efficiencies use South Africa’s advanced payments infrastructure as its foundation. Michael Jordaan, co-founder and chair, says “South Africa is a world leader in electronic payments yet customers seldomly experience this power, as it requires a modern core banking system to leverage this.” He continues: “It’s exciting that all staff are part of this first wave of Beta testing.” After successful staff Beta testing, external Beta customers will be invited gradually from a database of individuals and businesses who have volunteered.

Bank Zero will provide businesses with a higher degree of protection from the all-too-common tragedy of being defrauded by unexpected criminals in their midst. This, plus lower banking fees, will provide much needed relief to the business and entrepreneurial segments of the economy. Businesses will also enjoy seamless integration with Xero Accounting software. Further customer relief will come from reduced ‘phishing attacks’ that result in financial losses, as banks have to repudiate these claims.

Bank Zero’s ‘check account’ replaces old notions of cheque/current accounts and other legacy-style accounts. This modern check account will provide real-time checking and control of money. What’s more, being segment-agnostic means no more upgrades from restrictive entry-level ‘bait’ accounts to more expensive ones. All Bank Zero customers will have access to all features. For example, detection of rogue debit orders as well as other unique advancements in payments technology will be offered free of charge to both individuals and businesses.

These features are currently being Beta-tested with the aim to perfect a clutter-free, intuitive and easy-to-use App. As Yatin Narsai, co-founder and CEO, explains: “Why shouldn’t banking be a joyful, exciting and safe experience? After all it’s your money.”

Customers will now see Bank Zero as an option when entering recipient/beneficiary details, or alternatively the branch code 888000 can be used. In bank-speak, Bank Zero is now a ‘clearing bank’ in addition to being a ‘settlement bank’. This is remarkably fast progress, considering Bank Zero announced just five months ago that it had received a banking licence and has integrated directly into the systems of the South African Reserve Bank. “Getting the calculus right on our core banking system was vital,” says Yatin, “this quick and agile delivery validates our brave and bold strategic choices.”

He explains: “Prudent use of capital requires that accurate business blueprints are delivered from the get-go. This approach enables us to bring a revolutionary new core banking system to market with pervasive encryption and digital scaling. It is fundamental to our low-cost, high-capability offering.” The alternative is to buy traditional ‘off-the-shelf’ systems for both core and back-office functions, but these systems are ultimately designed for traditional banks. This requires extensive and expensive re-builds – which customers end up paying for. Also, the risks become unpalatable as complexity compounds quickly.

“A pricing-based strategy is important but it can’t end there,” says Yatin. “Bank Zero will deliver much-needed solutions, and integral to its revolutionary core banking system is its unique App and ecosystem. It embodies the social connectedness of the digital world, and solves for the fast-paced, complex and integrated economy in which businesses and individuals survive – no queues, no admin, great service.”

Further innovation will come from Bank Zero driving and nurturing a savings culture through smartly integrated financial help and the rise of ‘digital fluency’. This is a welcome shift in a society marred by conspicuous consumption and instant gratification.

So what’s next? Bank Zero will now start implementing its patented card technology. Yatin explains: “The ubiquitous card has dominated spending for decades – but this ‘a card is a card’ approach is strategically flawed. Bank Zero will bring advancements and convenience by focusing specifically on security and control. The trauma of card skimming and other rogue methods of recording card details will be a thing of the past at Bank Zero. The alarming trend of rogue online stores bypassing OTP-based security will also be prevented.”

He continues: “The 16-digit card number no longer needs to change each time a card is replaced. This means card details for digital services (such as Netflix or Uber) don’t have to be reset. Also, customers will be able to make QR payments via platforms such as Zapper or SnapScan, as well as mobile-based NFC payments. A card is never just a card at Bank Zero.”

“Sweat equity is our strategic advantage,” says Michael. “It transforms deep and diverse banking insights and know-how into powerful intellectual property.” For example, having a single view of the customer is vital, yet banking excellence is also about having a single end-to-end view of money. This is the science of banking.

Full public operations are expected to start in the second half of 2019.