Michael Jordaan: Bank Zero still has more aces up its sleeve

Bank Zero still has a few "aces" up its sleeve, which will be revealed in due course, its co-founder and chair, Michael Jordaan, told Fin24 on Wednesday.

Integral to Bank Zero's core banking system, is its unique app and ecosystem, according to Jordaan.
He foresees that what he calls "the cosy relationship" between big banks in SA, will be completely disrupted by new banks with better cost structures and access to modern technology.

"Of course, we realise that, as a small and new bank, trust is everything," he added.

Designed for smartphones

Bank Zero announced five months ago that it had received a banking licence and had integrated directly into the systems of the SA Reserve Bank.

Jordaan said Bank Zero designed its banking functionality with the smartphone in mind. "We want to make the user-interface so obvious that you can just start using it," he said.

The bank announced on Wednesday that it has officially implemented its EFT payment capabilities and started full end-to-end Beta testing ahead of its anticipated launch in the second half of 2019.

Jordaan explained that Beta testing is a term used in the tech field which basically means "you let your product loose" on a select number of customers, typically volunteers, to provide feedback to see if the user interface is optimal. This is to solve problems and make adjustments before the public launch.

Bank Zero anticipates that its "check account" will replace old notions of cheque or current accounts. Its modern check account will provide real-time checking and control of money.

Reverse rogue debit orders

All Bank Zero customers will have access to all features, including reversing "rogue debit orders". The bank will also now start the implementation of its patented card technology.

According to Jordaan, having a single view of the customer is vital, yet banking excellence is also about having a single end-to-end view of money.

He explained that most risk around banking comes from traditional banks being multi-channelled.

"We are restricting yourselves to a smartphone app only. This means a compromise in another channel is not possible, and smartphones themselves inherently have lot of other protective measures like biometrics," he said.

New banking system

"We have built a new banking system using all the latest available technology, including modern security software and modern encryption. We are confident that we have the latest security protocols. We also came up with patented security features for the card we plan to launch. We can also use things like location for added security. For instance, if an instruction comes from a questionable part of the world."

Jordaan, who was formerly CEO of FNB, is confident that Bank Zero will be competitive, particularly because of the easy access it will offer.

"I think we will set a new benchmark of what customers want and expect from banks," said Jordaan.

"Clearly, we wish we could launch sooner, but we are determined to do this properly, so we are doing it incrementally. Then, when we launch in the second half of the year, we would have done everything to 'wow' customers."

Fin24 reported earlier that the Consulta SA Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) for banking, released on Wednesday, foresees that, as banking in SA moves through technological disruption, it will be "heavily tested", with fierce competition among current players as well as the entrance of what it calls new "disruptor" banks like Discovery Bank, Bank Zero and TymeBank.

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