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South African Digital Bank Launches App for Business Banking


Bank Zero, a South African digital bank, has expanded into commercial banking by launching a business banking app. The app-based bank aims to disrupt traditional banks with its zero monthly fee model.

Founded in 2018, Bank Zero entered the South African market in 2021 as a tech-driven alternative to traditional banks. It relies on its website and mobile app for account openings and transactions without physical branches.

A key selling point is no monthly account fees and free electronic payments, debit orders, card swipes, and prepaid purchases. Bank Zero also does not offer loans. Most digital transactions are free, though some withdrawals and third-party transfers have small fees.

The digital bank was founded by seven investors, including former First National Bank CEO Michael Jordaan as chair. Yatin Narsai, former head of IT and retail banking at FNB, is Bank Zero’s CEO. The bank has significant Black and women ownership.

Jordaan said Bank Zero offers an innovative approach far from legacy banks’ costly, inefficient systems. Narsai stated the commercial banking launch was complex, but the end product was “ground-breaking.”

The business banking app aims to enhance productivity and security. All processes, from setting up teams to making payments, are handled in the app. Bank Zero said its costs are about 85% less than traditional banks’ packages.

CFO Liné Wiid said the app’s ease of use brings huge time savings versus traditional manual paperwork and branch visits. Narsai highlighted security features like flagged changed account details and documentation for approvals.

Other app capabilities include downloading transaction history, setting up business debit cards, and integration with accounting platforms like Xero. Card payment terminals can also be supplied through a partnership.

Narsai said Bank Zero completely rethought commercial banking for the digital era with no legacy systems. The bank promises the app will significantly improve business productivity and lower costs.

The launch comes as digital banking competition rises in South Africa. Bank Zero entered the market after other rivals like TymeBank and Discovery Bank. Last week, MTN Group also launched a mobile money business wallet.



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