Root, in partnership with Standard Bank, will soon launch a lightweight bank account which comes with a programmable credit card, online banking interface, mobile app, and APIs.
Root is an OfferZen project, with Standard Bank providing the underlying banking service and the regulatory framework.
Root was co-founded by Louw Hopley, an entrepreneur who previously launched an iPhone app development company operating between New York and Silicon Valley.
He returned to South Africa to start Root, with the aim of eliminating the barrier to entry for innovation in the financial sector.
A Root account enables any software developer to build a fintech product without special access to the banking world.
“Developers are able to create solutions to problems in almost any industry, but are severely limited in the fintech space by massive starting costs and barriers to entry,” said Malan Joubert, co-founder of OfferZen.
“Root is our experiment to change that fundamentally.”
“It is like a 24/7/365 hackathon that allows any developer to build life-enabling apps or solutions,” said John Campbell, Head: Standard Bank EDGE.
“Instead of relying only on people who work for Standard Bank, we are giving any developer the power to create opportunities or solve problems they experience.”
The Root account and RootCode
At the centre of the account is the Root credit card, which is developer friendly and allows a user to write code that interacts with transactions in real-time.
The code, dubbed RootCode, is securely stored in the cloud by Root.
Through RootCode and other APIs to the bank account, users can build any feature they like and integrate it with other services to expand their account’s functionality.
As an example of what can be done, Root beta users have written many RootCode apps. These include:
- Sending their transaction data to a Google Sheet in real-time, to make budgeting easy.
- Limit the days on which they can buy fast food, as part of a diet plan.
- Create a dedicated card and budget for Uber rides.
If a user has built something with Root, they can share it with other developers on the Root platform.
Standard Bank will also provide support for developers to scale Root apps to the broader market.
High-potential applications developed in Root can be launched to all Standard Bank customers through Standard Bank’s dedicated API strategy.
Root launch plans
Root is currently operating in private beta, and no firm launch date has been announced.
However, the company said it is working on a potential public launch before the end of June 2017.
People who are interested in the project can sign up on the Root website – Root.co.za.
Examples of what you can do with Root
- Create an Uber card: Give your daughter R500 pocket money each month on a Root card, but place no spending limit on Uber usage.
- Custom notifications: Each time you buy a coffee you get a custom SMS notification that tells you how much money you’ve spent on coffee in the past week.
- Savings card: Write code that rounds up each card transaction you make to the nearest R5, and adds that to your savings account.
- Budgeting: Send your transaction data to Google Sheets, where you can create charts comparing your weekly spend.
The images below provide an overview of the Root interface.