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Bank Zero’s Michael Jordaan puts launch delay down to decision to build own tech stack

Michael Jordaan, founder of Bank Zero and former FNB chief executive. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn
Michael Jordaan, founder of Bank Zero and former FNB chief executive. Photo: Supplied/Ventureburn

Bank Zero announced today that it is a step closer to launching operations to the public, after having completed its core value proposition and having gone live with its debit card.

In a statement today the bank said it now expects to launch to the public in the first half of next year — a delay of about a year over the bank’s earlier plans to launch by middle of this year.

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In March the bank said in a statement that it expected to launch to the public in the second half of 2019.

Commenting today on the delay in the launch, Bank Zero chair, venture capitalist and former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan (pictured above) admitted to Ventureburn that “real life has taken a longer than we had originally anticipated”.

The process has taken longer because we’ve built Bank Zero’s tech stack ourselves — Michael Jordaan

“In short, we built the entire IT software stack ourselves. This means we have a fully integrated core banking platform with full reconciliations and embedded compliance that operates across all payment rails.

“Our process could have been faster — but much, much more expensive and me-too — had we bought a traditional banking system and customised it to integrate with other, bought systems and outsourced the building of payment rails,” he pointed out.

He added that the only way to bring “meaningful” savings on bank fees and also offer a range of superior, mobile-first functionality is to do all the development in-house in one integrated system.

“We are happy with the trade-off involved in balancing the longer time to launch with better functionality and lower fees,” he added.

Timeline to 2020 launch

In the statement today the bank outlined a timeline in its countdown to launching in the first half of 2020 (see below timeline).

It said the first part of the timeline will involve testing its debit card, in which it will carry out rigorous health-checks such as simulated card attacks, card fraud detection and retailer readiness.

The bank claims its new patented card offers vital security features that will dramatically minimise the negative impact of card data theft and card skimming on Bank Zero customers.

It said Mastercard teams from South Africa, India and the US, the bank said, were closely involved in validating and commissioning the card. This, while IBM’s global expertise in encrypted card security was also tapped.

Bank Zero said the countdown to going live will be as follows:

  1. Completion of its Android and iOS apps for both individuals and businesses
  2. Putting the patented card through its paces by actively using the first cards which recently arrived, sporting a fresh new design
  3. Confirming that regulatory reporting is in order
  4. Performing the annual disaster recovery test
  5. Ensuring that cards can be used internationally
  6. Confirming security and performance testing to ensure Bank Zero’s systems can handle massive volumes
  7. Implementing a standby system, enabling maintenance without inconveniencing customers
  8. Fine-tune and complete the build-out of the customer service model
  9. Extending current beta testing
  10. Start public operations

Read more: Bank Zero to begin beta testing in the first quarter of 2019
Read more: No plans for Bank Zero to use blockchain, bitcoin says Michael Jordaan
Read more: Michael Jordaan blown away by all the good wishes on app-based Bank Zero

Featured image: Bank Zero chairman and co-founder Michael Jordaan (Supplied)

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