Not retiring to the vineyard: startups in Michael Jordaan’s post FNB future?

Michael Jordaan

Michael Jordaan

Much has been rumoured about what current FNB CEO Michael Jordaan will do when he exits the bank termed the most innovative in the world at the end of this year.

This just in: he is not retiring to make wine. Nope, he is leaving to learn more about innovation and look at ways to invest in startups. Jordaan, who was speaking at a Heavy Chef event in Johannesburg spoke about innovation and how it has fundamentally changed the way FNB does business, as well as learning from companies like Google.

Is FNB trying to be Google?

“What keeps us [FNB] awake at night is not our competitors, but what is happening to technology. Apple has one of the biggest database of credit cards in the world and what happens if they decide to launch a bank. I don’t know how we would compete with a brand like Apple. Google can also do the same thing, they are trusted brands and they have shown their worth for people to adopt them,” says Jordaan.

He says that FNB has “learnt from Google and our game is to have a really competitive basic banking product”. For the banker, the best way FNB has achieved this is by disrupting other industries around it.

“We thought of ways to reward people with things like the slow lounge, free data, fuel rewards and airtime rewards. I guess in a sense we are like Google in that we don’t mind disrupting any of the other industries around us as long as we can bring value to our customers,” he says.

This type of strategic thinking is key, he thinks, because if Apple does indeed decide to go into the banking space, FNB customers will be less inclined to jump ship because they will lose those rewards and benefits.

More innovation and some startups too

The banker says that he wants to learn a lot about the disruptive technologies that are going the change the world along the lines of what the Singularity University does in the US.

“I really like the Singularity University in Silicon Valley where they get experts to lecture on disruptive technologies that will change the world in the next 10 years,” says Jordaan.

He feels that he needs to understand what those technologies are and get “real good sense” of the next innovations.

This, he hopes, will help him when it comes to deciding how the next chapter will play out.

“I am interested in getting involved in the startup scene in Cape Town, perhaps invest in some startups myself,” he says.

Jordaan has been quietly active in South Africa’s startup scene through his Angelhub investments in companies like RealTime Wine.

Jordaan is still mum on how big his involvement will be in the startup community but he says it is space he is “interested” in and will certainly be doing something in the future.



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