Bank Zero’s plans for 2022

South Africa’s digital banking newcomer, Bank Zero, plans to improve its services with new features for businesses and individuals in 2022.

Launch of Bank Zero in October 2021, after a closed testing period beginning in August 2021, during which applicants had to join a waiting list before being admitted as clients.

A Bank Zero account requires customers to pay a one-time fee for a personalized and embossed debit card which they can have delivered to their doorstep for R139. Alternatively, you can choose to pick up the card when registering via the Android or iOS mobile app and pay a lower R79 fee.

Mutual Bank has a patent for their card, and it comes with several security features that eliminate the risk of card skimming and ATM card swapping.

Bank Zero also says it is the only bank that gives customers the ability to control subscriptions online. All online card transactions and debit orders also require authorization.

There are no monthly fees for the account and most bank transactions are free, with customers able to manage their accounts through the mobile app.

Customers can withdraw cash at POS at retailers such as Checkers and Pick ‘n Pay for R2 or at another bank’s ATM at R9 per R1,000.

Bank Zero charges a maximum of 1% forex markup on international card transactions – cheaper than most other banks.

An example of the Bank Zero debit card

Yatin Narsai, CEO and co-founder of Bank Zero previously said he thought it would be possible to reach 100,000 customers by the end of 2021.

Due to its low cost structure, the number would be enough for the bank to break even.

But the bank has now clarified that it is building its base incrementally, with a phased approach to reaching its target customers.

Bank Zero said it would use innovative targeted digital marketing instead of general above-the-line marketing to reach its 100,000 goal.

The bank told MyBroadband that it learned a lot from its initial launch period, which saw strong customer participation.

He said he managed to withstand a lot of curveballs during the first few months of shutdown, including stress tests from competitors, which he had anticipated.

Bank Zero said it was now seeing “solid” support.

“Customers joining us tend to be active, with large average balances and good spend per card purchase.”

Bank Zero app main screen (left), EFT payment screen (middle) and card settings (right)

In terms of new features, Bank Zero said it will focus on businesses in the coming months.

“Corporate banking has been sadly neglected in South Africa, both in terms of overly high bank charges and lack of functionality, hence Bank Zero’s emphasis on this,” the bank explained.

“Business onboarding is a simple process at Bank Zero, as owners, administrators, and more can be loaded, commissioned, and edited on a single application screen.”

“All business owners have full transparency of banking activity, reducing the risk of fraud.”

Business customers also benefit from the same pricing structure as individuals.

Individuals will receive features such as bank statements and confirmation letters.

Interesting Customer Trends

Bank Zero also shared some interesting trends it observed among its customers post-launch:

  • Both the app and the map are popular with users under 16. Minors (youth banking) in traditional banks should access their bank account through an adult profile. At Bank Zero, they have their own app login, receive their own account notifications, and can view their own transactions in real time. This has a direct impact on the growth of more and more financially savvy people.
  • Customers like to choose an image for their Bank Zero cards – they often post images of their cards on social media.
  • Savings gamification – including an inspirational photo, visual progress bar, ability to make friends – is a regularly used feature.
  • The quick account opening process, which usually takes less than 5 minutes to provide details, complete biometrics and digitally upload FICA documents, is a success.
  • The ability to reject a new debit order, when it turns out to be fraudulent, is already being used by customers and receiving positive feedback.
  • Zero bank payment proof has also proven popular. It includes tracking information on where the money is in the interbank process. It also displays the invoices/contracts/other documents that the payer could have uploaded during the payment.

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