“The bank has scaled quickly and built a uniquely powerful digital banking and technology capability,” says Hylton Kallner, Discovery Bank’s CEO.
Kallner added that the bank will be the “de facto operating system” for Discovery Group, which controls the insurance company Discovery Health and serves 3.3 million people (40% of South Africa’s medical market).
Ripe for disruption
“Surely, if Discovery, a mere insurer, bags one million customers and $600m deposits so quickly, it means the ‘Big five banks’ [Absa, FNB, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Bidvest] are complacent,” says Carter Mavhiza an independent public accountant in Johannesburg.
South Africa is the continent’s largest retail banking market and its banks carried a combined asset book of $448bn in 2020. However, the country’s more traditional banks are increasingly having to fight accusations of running a monopoly market, exchange-rate
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