Investec and OfferZen launching programmable bank accounts

Investec and OfferZen are launching programmable bank accounts for software developers, which will form part of a beta programme.

The beta launch follows OfferZen previously touting the idea of a programmable bank account called in Root in 2017.

The Investec account, which software developers can apply for here, will provide the following:

  • An Investec private bank account with access to a private banker.
  • Programmable access to your Investec account – which includes access to a hosted code editor on the online banking platform.
  • And “coming soon”, Bank account API Access – this will provide access to your transactions and the ability to make payments via API.

Investec and OfferZen said developers will be able to build their own rules and limits using “securely hosted JavaScript cloud functions that execute during your card transactions”.

“Limit your fast-food spend, track your coffee intake on the fly, or send money to your favourite charity on every swipe – anything goes,” states the beta page.

Developers who apply and are selected will then be taken on in Q1 2020.

The foundation

OfferZen said that the announcement of the Root programmable bank account in 2017 received strong attention from the tech community.

“At the time, it was hard to find a bank that understood the full power of programmable banking, so our original strategy was to build a completely new bank. As it turns out, building a bank is hard and expensive,” said OfferZen cofounder Malan Joubert.

Following this, the root team was approached by insurance company MMH to build programmable insurance.

They built and launched the programmable insurance platform, which then grew quickly. Joubert said the Root team’s focus then shifted fully to insurance.

“Then, a few months ago, Investec approached us to talk about their mission to invest in the tech sector,” he said.

Following joint work by OfferZen and Investec on the programmable banking project, the beta has now been launched.

“The success of the last few months has convinced me that we may finally be able to make programmable banking a reality for South African developers,” said Joubert.

The details

Speaking to MyBroadband, Investec said the banking beta is open to software developers – particularly those “interested in building innovative solutions and sharing their ideas with the tech community”.

“Investec has traditionally focused on building targeted offerings for specific professions and we believe that software development is a career of the future,” said the company.

“We have been working with OfferZen to better understand software development as a career, and are applying these learnings in how we evaluate people for the beta.”

The aim of the beta is to clearly define how Investec can help developers with programmable banking, it said.

“Right now, we are running the beta program internally with developers from OfferZen and Investec. External developers will be onboarded to the beta in Q1 2020.”

The development of the beta and the bank accounts will be largely determined by what the developers in the beta want, and currently, there is no set limit on how many developers they will take on.

If the beta is successful, Investec said it aims to then add APIs and programmable banking as the next channel for its business and private clients.

“We’ve always been very focused on our clients and try to build what they want. When looking at software developers, we collaborated with OfferZen to engage with the tech community. The overwhelming response from developers was that they wanted programmable banking,” said Investec.

“This beta is aimed at software developers, but we believe that in the long-term working closely with the developer community will lead to innovative solutions that will benefit all our customers.”

Now read: Cheapest bank accounts in South Africa

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Investec and OfferZen launching programmable bank accounts