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A bank built in 1.5m hours takes on 180-year-old rivals

Discovery Bank to open to the public on Monday.

It took Discovery 1.5 million man hours over four years to build a bank. When the startup opens to the public Monday it will challenge South African lenders with histories going back to 1838, and they’re ready for battle.

The insurer prides itself on its Vitality offering, a rewards program that gives its 1.9 million customers discounts for exercising or buying healthy food; a concept also being applied to banking clients who keep their finances in order. But, while Discovery Bank was getting off the ground, the likes of FirstRand’s First National Bank and Capitec Bank had a head start to bolster their own services and begin a price war.

Read: Discovery slowly opens its bank ‘doors’

Despite the complexities of linking more than 120 systems spanning Discovery’s life, health, short-term insurance and money management businesses, banking customers will see a single interface where they can do most transactions in just three clicks, Discovery Chief Executive Officer Adrian Gore said in an interview in Johannesburg.

Not all of what’s on offer is completely new. Customers can open an account with a selfie, something already available through FNB, and be fully subscribed within five minutes, about the time it will take to open a TymeBank account.

The company will also transfer 2.1 billion Discovery miles held by existing customers to the bank, which can be converted to e-money or spent at partner stores. FNB’s eBucks loyalty program allows customers to buy goods online or get fuel discounts, although these accrue monthly, while Discovery e-money’s is instant. Other banks have also sharpened their loyalty programs.

This isn’t 55-year-old Gore’s first rodeo since he founded Discovery in 1992 as a health-insurance administrator, and building it into the country’s biggest. He has also used partnerships to export Vitality to 18 other countries, including the US, China, Europe, Singapore and Australia.

“This is a bank, it’s a highly complex animal,” he said. “We haven’t felt the need to rush it.”

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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Next they’ll be launching a cryptocurrency with a loyalty scheme.

At least banking is getting less boring.

Competition in the banking industry is sorely needed. The service of the big established brands is dismal.

I suppose it is nothing but 1.5m hours translates into something like 171 years. Which is more than the 18 years head start hinted in article. So the headline at least can be confusing. Maybe it is a millennial type calculation.

Sigh. It wasn’t just built by one person(man) you know.

Why are people still up voting this? MAN-hours. Work completed by ONE man. If I have 10 people working 24hrs, that’s 240 man hours completed in one day.

Now what exactly was built? And I still would like to know how Gore built Discovery into the largest medical scheme administrator seeing a medical scheme administrator is supposedly to only attract a certain percentage fee?

Hopefully their virtual bank will offer a direct foreign investment function / i.e. facility to transfer ZAR into a USDollar account? 😉

Hmmm…it will likely work as follows:
“Sorry, forex facility Declined” / “You have not as yet attained Gold Status”.
….Earn XYZ loyalty points, then you quality for “level 1b” forex functionality, and so forth.

But if you upgrade your medical plan-option (or increase your RA Fund) you will frog-leap the queue.
“Bonus point if you have been to the gym twice this week….then we’ll cut the forex fees with a factor of 0,15 @ 2.0visits / divided by your age-group as a %…plus, add a mirror and a whiff of smoke.

When you’ve successfully enabled your offshore Discovery account, you’ll come to realise it’s not held in US-Dollars, but in “Discovery-dollars”…which will be your loyaly-points multiplied by a factor of 300% of the ‘Discovery rate’. Now it makes sense 🙂

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