Discovery Bank has quietly launched a new version of its app – and users hate it

Business Insider SA
  • Discovery Card members are receiving emails saying they can migrate their Discovery credit card to Discovery Bank using its app.
  • The app – last updated on 22 July – has received a stream of negative reviews as users complain of glitches in its sign-up process and other functions.
  • The app promises a lot – once it overcomes teething trouble.
  • For more stories, go to

Consumers eagerly anticipating the launch of Discovery Bank have been left disappointed after its updated app fell short of their expectations – and they've been expressing themselves in reviews.

Following a commitment in June to scale up from 1,000 customers, Discovery Bank has now opened its doors to more clients.  

A steady stream of Discovery Card members (which are clients of First National Bank under a partnership now being phased out) have been receiving emails informing them they can migrate to Discovery Bank using the app. Users are promised that Discovery Card accounts can be seamlessly transferred to Discovery Bank, including  linked debit orders and credit limits.

This, they are told, will take five minutes.

Discovery Bank app
Discovery email. Source Discovery.

But the app, which already has over 10,000 downloads on the Google Play store, has been met with a stream of negative reviews as users found numerous glitches with its sign-in process and functionality. Over 154 comments have been left on the Google Play store, with consumers giving it an average rating of just 2.2 out of 5.

Discovery Bank app
Discovery Bank app. Google Play store.

Errors reported by users range from crashes to not being able to synchronise their migrated Discovery Card accounts, to a faulty selfie scanner that takes pictures instantly.

Discovery Bank
Discovery Bank app reviews on Google Play store.

"The app has been in beta testing for a period of 8 to 10 months now. From our side we've seen about 70% to 80% of clients accessing the app without a problem. There has certainly been more demand than we anticipated especially over periods yesterday and today. We've been working hard in the background to add more infrastructure to the sites functionality to adjust for the inflow," Ryan Noach, Deputy CEO of Discovery Bank, told Business Insider South Africa. 

Noach worked through some of the teething problems that Business Insider have picked up: 

The bank claims you can ‘sign up in minutes with a selfie and without any paperwork’. However, some attempts at selfie registration are unsuccessful and you have to upload a proof of address. 

"To call it just a selfie scanner is too basic. There is a lot more going on in the background of this feature. It's a complex facial-recognition AI we have developed to compare your image with databases across the world to run background checks on you," said Noach. 

For some users, Discovery says, the algorithms will pick up contradictions between an old home address and a new one. This is why some users are asked to submit further supporting documents.

Discovery says there were two types of emails that went out. One was a specific email addressed to individual clients whose details were migrated to the banking app, and then a more generic one. 

For those clients who were individually emailed, their details should have been migrated across and the database should have recognised them. 

For clients who got the generic email, profiles may not have been migrated as yet, and hence the system would not have picked up their details.

Noach says the AI may fail to match facial features to an account if users have not updated their profiles lately.

Clients are on what the company calls call a "Discovery ID system", where their details are linked throughout their various portfolios. An out-of-date photo may not be the root cause of the issue, but it is recommended clients update their Discovery app with a new picture and check to see if their general information is correct. 

Once it overcomes its teething troubles, there is a lot on offer in the app.

The app features Discovery’s new Vitality Money, its answer to e-money. It comes with a savings tracker through which consumers will get rewarded for maintaining good financial practices, like reaching weekly savings goals.

An interesting new feature allows you to save your rewards as cash in your Vitality Savings Account. 

Noach says Vitality Money's incentives will be based on a client's good banking behaviour "no matter how rich you are".

"The reward is democratised. So no matter what your status is, whether you are Gold or Diamond, the rewards will be in effect as long as you reach those weekly goals," said Noach.

On offer will be better interest rates on savings, and lower interest on credit. A system they are calling Dynamic Interest Rates.

Should you meet the Money saving goals you can pay up to 6% less on your credit and earn up to 1.5% extra interest on your savings and positive balances, as you improve your status.

There will also be increased discounts for Discovery Vitality partners.

While Diamond Vitality members enjoy up to 35% off on flights from selected partners, Vitality Money clients can boost flight discounts to up to 75%.

They’ll be able to get up to:

  • 50% cash back from Clicks and Dis-Chem.
  • 20% cash back at Shell and BP.
  • 50% cash back at Sportsmans Warehouse or Total Sports.
  • 20% cash back on Uber.
  • 75% on healthy foods at Pick n Pay or Woolworths.

Noach cautioned the maximum discounts may only apply to those who are on the premium Discovery Black card, for high income earners who take home R850,000 or more a year.  

Clients can also still get their weekly free coffees, smoothies or shopping vouchers. And as an added bonus they can shift Vitality Active Rewards money goals to fund a new iPhone (or, at least, fund it in part, depending on how many monthly targets you hit).

Discovery Bank.
The bank will be issuing a snazzy new looking vertical credit card. Discovery Bank.

Discovery want to put its clients under a single umbrella linking them to its other portfolios like medical aid and car insurance. The more portfolios you are under, the greater your discounts can potentially be. 

A critical development to the rewards architecture is there will no longer be any Discovery Miles which will now transition into Vitality Money. Discovery Miles existed in its traditional form on the old Discovery Card structure.

Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: