Bank Zero: delayed again
  • Bank Zero, the challenger created by former First National Bank executives, now hopes to be open to the public in mid-2021, ITWeb reports.
  • It says staff working from home during the pandemic makes it safer to take things slow.
  • Bank Zero had originally been due to launch in 2019, then before the end of 2020.
  • FNB has since launched a zero-cost account, while fellow challengers Tyme and Discovery Bank has signed up customers quickly.
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Bank Zero says it will now "hopefully" be open to the public before the end of June 2021, and until then it will stick to a "closed rollout", technology website ITWeb reported on Monday.

Keeping customer numbers low is better while its staff is working from home, CEO Yatin Narsai told ITWeb journalist Sibahle Malinga, describing the coronavirus pandemic as its "biggest challenge".

Bank Zero had been due to be fully operational before the end of 2019. It then intended to launch before the end of 2020 – and the most recent statement on its website still refers to a "final countdown towards starting public operations in the first half of 2020".

See also | Here’s how Bank Zero’s patented debit cards work – and why your card number will never have to change

Bank Zero's patented credit cards, which it says will protect customers against skimming, are operational for the customers allowed into its closed-group testing, but there is currently no way to join without an invitation, or to request an invitation.

As captured in its name, Bank Zero's primary marketing promise is that it will not charge fees. First National Bank – where several of its executives work, launched a zero-fee account in November 2019.

Fellow upstart TymeBank hit a targeted two million customers in mid-2020, with its offer of low to no-fee banking towards the bottom of the market, while the top-end focussed new Discovery Bank reached 200,000 customers at roughly the same time.

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