The FNB dream team who built Bank Zero

Bank Zero is ready to shake up South Africa’s banking market with innovative and affordable digital banking products.

It recently unveiled its pricing for individual and business customers and is preparing for a public launch later this year.

Unlike traditional banks, Bank Zero only offers one account type “because it doesn’t believe in the practice of luring customers in with an entry-level account that has limited functionality”.

As suggested in its name, a lot of Bank Zero’s activities are free, including paying recipients at other banks, card payments, and buying airtime.

There is also no monthly fee on the account and notifications on activity and statement enquires are free.

While Bank Zero’s value proposition is attractive to consumers, it is particularly suitable for small businesses looking to cut their banking costs.

It has a simple pricing structure and its affordable fees significantly undercut business accounts from traditional banks.

Price is, however, not the only benefit Bank Zero is bringing to the market. As a fully digital bank, it is planning to make the most of new technologies to add value to subscribers.

It will have no branches, communication will be app-driven, and customers will be able to become shareholders.

It promises many innovative products to customers, including a patented debit card with advanced security features like multiple card numbers for different payment types.

So confident is Bank Zero of its overall value proposition that it is currently not planning to do any marketing.

Chairman Michael Jordaan said they do not have a marketing budget or a head of marketing and sales. “We hope the facts will speak for themselves,” he said.

Building Bank Zero

The idea for Bank Zero was conceived during a discussion between Jordaan and now Bank Zero CEO Yatin Narsai regarding the concept of using a Rasberry Pi to bring down the cost of an ATM.

The conversation moved from the Rasberry Pi ATM to the concept of an app-based challenger bank, which will enable innovative and low-cost banking.

Narsai subsequently researched the best way to start a new bank in South Africa and found that a mutual banking licence would serve that need.

The next step was to find the right skills. Building a new bank is a complex project which requires experts in finance, regulations, and IT.

Here Bank Zero had a big advantage. Jordaan, as former FNB CEO, and Narsai, as former CEO of FNB retail banking, had in-depth knowledge of the best FNB employees to recruit.

Narsai used this knowledge to assemble a team of former FNB employees who had since resigned to build the new digital bank.

The team included numerous former FNB executives, including Line Wiid, Lezanne Human, Hanli Grobler, Mo Hassem, and Jay Prag.

What is striking is that every member of Bank Zero’s current executive management team is a former FNB employee.

This is, however, not surprising considering Jordaan and Narsai’s background and the respect which FNB employees have for Jordaan.

Having led FNB to rapidly grow its client base and become the most innovative bank in the world, Jordaan’s former employer is not taking Bank Zero lightly.

In a pre-emptive strike, FNB launched “Easy Zero” – a digital account with a bank card that allows customers to transact without paying a monthly fee.

Jordaan responded to FNB’s Easy Zero account on Twitter, saying “imitation is the best form of flattery”.

Bank Zero’s management

Bank Zero executives

The table below provides an overview of Bank Zero’s executive management team, and their previous positions at FNB.

Bank Zero Executive Management
Executive Bank Zero Position Former FNB Position
Michael Jordaan Chairman CEO
Yatin Narsai CEO CEO of FNB Retail and FNB Africa
Line Wiid CFO CEO of FNB inclusive segment transactional banking and loans
Lezanne Human CRO CEO of FNB Premier Banking
Jay Prag CTO FNB Technology Executive
Hanli Grobler CIO CIO of FNB Lending
Ismail Mahomed Head of Internal Audit CFO of FNB Technology
Anneke Landman Head of Treasury Exec of FNB Strategic funding for SMEs
Valerie Parker Head of Compliance CEO of FNB Shared Services
Gita Daya Head of Quality Assurance CIO of FNB Customer Systems

Now read: Why Michael Jordaan invested in Rain and Bank Zero

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The FNB dream team who built Bank Zero