SA’s newest bank, app-focused Bank Zero, begins trial runs


It’s really hard to innovate in the world of banking when your roots stretch back further than some countries have been countries, but South Africa’s newest bank, Bank Zero, is looking to give it a shot anyway. The new financial institution, which is backed by the likes of Michael Jordaan, has been granted its license by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and is now beginning Alpha tests of their app-driven bank.

Testing has begun following Bank Zero integrating with the SARB’s national payments system last month, a move that it says “will be of benefit to the bank’s users”. According to Bank Zero co-founder and executive director Lezanne Human, “Settling directly with the SARB rather than through a ‘sponsoring bank’ enables us to participate directly with peer banks in the movement of money.  We now have the ability to control our payments value chain, which forms a powerful foundation for innovative and cost-efficient offerings”.

Lezanne Human, Bank Zero

Bank Zero has managed to reach the Alpha testing stage without laying out vast amounts of money to get to that point, and testing involves small teams checking that everything is working as it should. This includes “…validating the end-to-end live systems and processes” and will see the bank utilising “…laboratory-style testing” to manage the following:

  • Using the banking App with its integration to the revolutionary new core banking platform
  • Full end-to-end testing of the customer experience from ‘on-boarding’ through to actual transacting
  • Perfecting the integrated business, security and regulatory processes
  • Recently completing a disaster recovery test of the infrastructure & full software stack
  • Confirming the fully automated regulatory reporting as required by the SARB

All of this has to take place before the fledgling financial institution starts its Beta testing in the first quarter of 2019 ahead of an anticipated launch to the public in mid-2019. Bank Zero is collaborating with IBM, in order to provide secure servers to the enterprise, and with Mastercard, to create a “…new generation of card” that will “…provid[e]the latest EMV technology and [deliver]multi-layered security protocols to protect users against fraud and identity theft.”

The details on what Bank Zero will actually offer remain extremely light, but we’re expecting low transaction fees, plenty of self-provisioning options via the app, a slick client on-boarding experience and built-in personal financial management smarts. You can bet when the Beta opens we’ll be signing up.


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