The Future Is Here
Entrepreneurial ecosystem in SA has experienced quite the year with local entrepreneurs consistently making waves in their respective industries. All eyes were on the Fin-Tech space recently as Dragon Den investor and serial entrepreneur Lebo Gunguluza made a huge announcement. Lebo Gunguluza is the Founder and CEO of Gem Group of companies. He recently announced his collaboration with brilliant young minds to launch what will go down in history as the first Fin-Tech Digital Bank on the African continent AZAR Bank.
Gem Group Re-Launch
On Tuesday, December 12, 2017 Lebo Gunguluza re-launched The Gem Group and all its global innovations. This date is particularly important because it marks the launch of Africa’s first ever digital bank.
For those wondering what is meant by the term “digital bank”; imagine a financial institution that is; “borderless, paperless, and branchless”. The future of banking is being brought to our fingertips and its target is millennials. The bank itself is not active as yet. The website was launched on the day as a build up to the digital bank reveal. Lebo Gunguluza saw fit to introduce the bank as part of the re-launching of his company and as his 12-12-12 mentorship program journey comes to an end.
The Mobile Application will be ready early next year, while the digital card is scheduled to launch on June 16, 2018 – when South Africa celebrates Youth Day.
Azar Bank – Africa’s First Digital Bank
AZAR Bank as the creators have named it, is a bank for the youth, by the youth. The name AZAR was inspired by the South African currency abbreviation ZAR. Lebo Gunguluza sits as the major shareholder and has worked with a team of millennials who are redefining and personalising banking.
Thabang M. Kekana is the brains behind AZAR bank. The 22 year old is the Founder and Chief Product Officer of AZAR Bank. Thabang revealed that they work closely with the youth, unbanked and informally banked population. “We try to find out what the problems and challenges they face are”. Azar bank then creates products around the issues raised by their audience. The bank aims to make financial services quick and accessible to their target audience through a mobile device from anywhere in the world. Thabang says;
“You will be able to open a bank account under three minutes, that is the most important part for us. You are presented with a digital card immediately after your registration where you will be able to start paying for things online. We decided to take it a step further where we allow people to pay in store. We designed a NFC sticker – our prepaid card which has up to thirty currencies…”
Thabang further explained the usage of NFC ( Near Field Communication) and HC (Host Card) in the development of the bank. “We use a secure element. You stick it onto your phone, go into the store, you tap it and it sends a message to your mobile device that you are about to make a payment. You confirm the payment and it then goes through. HC is a Host Card which is what hosts the bank card in your mobile phone.”
Challenges In Developing The Digital Financial Institutions
Nothing great comes without challenges, especially when disruption is involved. The development of AZAR Bank which will challenge the status quo of operations within financial institutions did not come without challenges. Lebo Gunguluza shared one of the biggest challenges that faces this initiative. “The Technology integrated is world class – first world technology. It is expensive. As the majority shareholder I will leverage to get other shareholders to come on board.”
Lebo Gunguluza has introduced the idea of the bank to corporations like SEFA, SEDA and other Banks. Azar Bank will focus on the customer and user experience. Because the bank is for millenials, the founder’s goal is to “make it easy for young people to bank, to get young people to love banking and to learn more about financial education but also introducing this to the unbanked Africans and South African.”
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Lebo Gunguluza gave a convicting speech on the fourth industrial revolution. The running theme for the night was “The future is here.” He stressed the importance of moving with the times and what the forthcoming time would require is for corporates and individuals to yield to the tech environment and its demands. “We must create a better world. This includes educating yourself through mediums such as Youtube. Africa and SA must prepare themselves.” Lebo Gunguluza put emphasis on job loss that will occur because of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The group realizes the issue at hand and aims to create a new work force that submits to the fourth industrial revolution.
A recent announcement from Jayshree Naidoo stating an end of an impactful term as the Head of Incubation at Standard Bank left us wondering what was next for the dynamic entrepreneurship enthusiast. Jayshree gladly revealed her new venture as CEO of YIEDI (Youth Innovation Entrepreneurship Design) Institute and its involvment in, incubation management, innovation and entrepreneurship and supply development. Jayshree is also Director of Izani Capital. This comes from a partnership with Lebo Gunguluza to provide Fin-Tech acceleration support for all start-ups coming through The GEM Group of Companies. Jayshree’s role will be to take Lebo Gunguluza’s “challenger bank” to the next level. Corporates and prominent people in attendance were the likes of Mashechaba Lekalaka, Phuti Mahanyele, Peter Sebiloane, Thakhane Makhuvha, representatives of Discovery, Vodacom, The Innovation Hub and many others. The future of banking was introduced by young South African entrepreneurs who worked tirelessly to bring this vision to life along with serial entrepreneur Lebo Gunguluza. The disruption is yet to unfold as the future draws near.