Lebo Gunguluza launches digital bank

Azar Bank will be South Africa's first 100% black-owned digital bank

Popular South African entrepreneur and reality TV star Lebo Gunguluza launched Azar Bank, the country’s first 100% black-owned digital bank, this week. The bank will be part of the FinTech division of the Gunguluza Enterprises and Media Group, a black-owned integrated media, technology, communications and hospitality group.

Azar Bank is a neo-banking and global mobile payments platform that directly charges the user's mobile phone balance, wallet, or bank account.

Gunguluza told IT Web that moving into the FinTech space was a simple decision. "There are over 15 million smartphone users between the ages of 16 and 34 in South Africa alone, and that is our primary target market. We intend creating a borderless, paperless and branchless bank in Africa to serve Africa, where all services are carried out through a mobile device in real-time. Azar's ability to bank through iOS and any other Android smartphone will allow its users to open a bank account and start transacting immediately."

The platform will utilise an AzarNexus NFC (near field communication) enabled sticker or an Azar Halo Ring to transact in a multi-factor security system. The ring and sticker will include customers' account information and is attached to the back of the mobile device, which will then allow and process smart payments.

While the aim is to have the platform function locally and internationally, users can currently deposit money into their mobile accounts through EFT, direct deposit at any Barclays (Absa) ATM, peer-to-peer, e-top-ups and wallet top-ups at mobile wallet agents.