Michael Jordaan, the co-founder and chairperson of Bank Zero. Photos supplied by MSL Group
Michael Jordaan, the co-founder and chairperson of Bank Zero. Photos supplied by MSL Group

Bank Zero: SA’s original digital and zero-fee bank is finally open for business and has revealed its new pricing

By Fast Company Time of article published Oct 19, 2021

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Bank Zero today released its new pricing for 2022. With all fees remaining as they were in 2021 and 2020, it sends a powerful message of Bank Zero’s intent to bring much-needed relief to both consumers and businesses. Zero monthly fees, zero fees for debit orders, EFTs and card transactions – and zero fees when buying prepaid items such as data or electricity.

Chairperson Michael Jordaan says: “Advanced app-based banking is now available to 24 million South African smartphone users and their businesses. This brings huge fee relief (potentially in the billions), great features and full access – our youngest customer is three whilst our oldest is 80. That's just incredible."

One of the key features of Bank Zero is that the zero fees and innovative functionality are the same for consumers and businesses. Until Bank Zero arrived, the business sector had little relief from high banking fees on top of cumbersome paper-intensive processes. As one customer tweeted: “This is game changing for the SME market!” Bank Zero sees huge opportunity in this space, with the South African SME market alone estimated at 5.6 million businesses.

The Bank Zero App caters for most South African businesses with turnovers from small to in the billions. (Although it will not take on listed companies and public sector-linked companies).

Yatin Narsai, the chief executive, is “pleasantly surprised by the higher-than-expected number of businesses registering during the closed roll-out, mostly (PTY) Ltds followed by CCs and then sole proprietors.”

Jordaan adds: “It’s wonderful to see how customers are voting with their money. We’ve already seen significant deposits flowing into Bank Zero so early in its life cycle.”

Since its public debut, Bank Zero has experienced excellent take-up and growth in card transactions. Most popular is e-commerce – with card subscriptions (that is the new debit orders) growing rapidly. A card control feature unique to Bank Zero enables customers to manage those sometimes-nasty subscriptions by turning them on/off as required. (Those merchants that keep incorrectly debiting your card can now be stopped!)

The special Bank Zero card patent has proved its value by stopping potentially fraudulent transactions. Bank Zero cards are being used locally and internationally. Bank Zero’s R0 fee per international card transaction and its low forex mark-up (0% if posted in ZAR, 1% if posted in foreign currency) is clearly a hit.

The purchasing of prepaid items is increasing at a fast pace, exceeding all Bank Zero forecasts.

Another popular feature among customers is its ability to inform customers about a new debit order that has been loaded on their account, and which they can then reject. And customers are informed when a regular debit order is about to run and if they have (in)sufficient funds.

Jordaan also announced today that “after an incredibly smooth start, Bank Zero is now fully open for business. Our launch is no longer constrained, and we invite all businesses and consumers to experience powerful banking at zero fees”.

Bank Zero was the first bank in the world to be launched by a fully WFH team. Public access was initially limited to wait-listed individuals while monitoring the effectiveness of the digital customer support processes created during the pandemic to match a new WFH world.

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