Standard Bank Root Account for Developers

sicelo.m

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May 4, 2011
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Stumbled upon this: https://root.co.za/
"Root is a lightweight bank account designed to be accessible through code.
With our API you can build your own interface and control your money programmatically."
 

scudsucker

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Oct 16, 2006
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Already been discussed... see
https://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php/881452-Root-–-A-revolutionary-programmable-credit-card-for-South-Africa

It's a great idea.

But. It's being proposed by a company with no track record in software (they are a recruitment agency) and they are known for self-promotion.

Their "partner" substandard bank is the least innovative bank in SA, with a terrible fear of technology. And worse, look how well 20twenty turned out in substandard's loving hands.

I love the idea. I think RSA is a bad place to debut it: our small population of technically savvy people who would want this product (and would be willing to deal with substandard bank as well) is too small. It would really only be the developers amongst us. I see a better test market somewhere like Poland where the market is small but the proportion of tech-savvy people is much higher; alongside a similar proportion of actual developers. There, (and in other countries) the developers could use root's API to make useful apps that people actually use.

Here, you can do the same but your target market is effectively your girlfriend, your mom, her mom. And a couple of friends.

As I said, I think it's a great idea.

But until there is an actual product (not an unreleased pre-beta) I'm going to be sceptical.

Plus... The first silicon valley startup to steal the idea will overwhelm an SA dev house in terms of available cash and available developers to throw at the idea, and even though production costs here are cheap; Offerzen won't be able to compete.

Which is a shame; they are great guys and are punting something pretty innovative- for the world, not just RSA.
 

sicelo.m

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May 4, 2011
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Thanks for pointing out the earlier thread. Should have searched in a better way :)
 

skimread

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SB won't want to release it. It could easily be unreleased beta for ever. It's like contract cellphone customers customers having a cap that network providers have to enforce.
 

DA-LION-619

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SB won't want to release it. It could easily be unreleased beta for ever. It's like contract cellphone customers customers having a cap that network providers have to enforce.
It would be interesting, SB is the biggest bank in Africa and are involved in FinTech.
 

scudsucker

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Further thoughts, after a glass of red wine:

The language to "program" your account is javascript. I going to be generous and say that they have prevented everyone from "eval ()"ing the **** out of everything.

But JS is also tradionally a language learnt early on by beginners who a liable to terrible mistakes (apologies to the node, react, angular etc guys) and the simple examples on the website do not give me much confidence that I might not go on a drunken, ( and non-unit-tested ) experiment one evening and wind up with nothing in my bank account. And I am a programmer with 17 years in JS. Who is to know what horrors a 1st year student is going to wreak?

There's no mention of a sandbox let alone tests. Plus there's scant mention of interaccounts security. How can I be sure someone else's malicious JS is not being executed on "my" account?

I realise they've probably made exceptions and limits for security, but what about overconfident stupidity? Using their example (from the Offerzen blog) each time I transact I could round the total up to the nearest R5, putting that money away for a holiday in Thailand.

But is there any protection from my typo, and suddenly I am rounding up to R500... and my "Thailand holiday" account is a 30 day notice account?

Banks have to deal with human stupidity all the time. But allowing coders to invent their own form of stupidity, with (apparently) no safe "sandbox" seems like a bad, bad idea.
 

pjoub06

Senior Member
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Aug 4, 2007
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571
It's being proposed by a company with no track record in software (they are a recruitment agency) and they are known for self-promotion.
Founder of OfferZen here. The company is new (launched November 2015) but our team is pretty experienced. We've been involved in SnapScan, Luno, JourneyApps and a number of other startups.

It would really only be the developers amongst us.
That's exactly who we are aiming Root at :)
 
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pjoub06

Senior Member
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Aug 4, 2007
Messages
571
Banks have to deal with human stupidity all the time. But allowing coders to invent their own form of stupidity, with (apparently) no safe "sandbox" seems like a bad, bad idea.
Preventing users from making mistakes is a big focus for us. We have a number of safeguards to prevent people from making mistakes, one of which is a sandbox mode.
 
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