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The partnership between a bank owned by billionaire Patrice Motsepe and the influential Zion Christian Church could be a way for TymeBank to rapidly increase the number of its clients and compete with some of the country’s biggest banks.

A banking analyst said this after TymeBank, founded a year ago and a subsidiary of Motsepe’s Arican Rainbow Capital (ARC), this week announced it has entered into a partnership with the ZCC to offer bank products to the church’s members.

The partnership could come as a welcome boost for the fledgling digital bank which in its first 10 months of operation has managed to sign up one million clients though it does not have branches.

Gryphon’s banking analyst Casparus Treurnicht said: “TymeBank is trying to reach a lot of people quickly. By partnering with organisations like these they can accumulate a big membership very quickly.

“Capitec better watch out. It’ll be interesting to see if clients get rid of a Capitec account and only pursue TymeBank going forward.”

Treurnicht said banking fees were getting extremely competitive and consumers were cutting off even that R5 extra in banking fees.

“With the usual rewards available to TymeBank clients [for example extra points] I don’t see why churchgoers would not accept this card.

“In my opinion the relationship between Tymebank and Boxer/Pick n Pay is already attracting a lot of clients.

“My question is, however, are these profitable clients? They are targeting Capitec’s clientele with low fees and simplified banking. Expect competition to get fierce. Discovery Bank is aiming for a different client, but everyone wants a piece of the pie, and I believe the pie is shrinking.”

A media statement of the partnership launch, announced at a special ceremony in ZCC headquarters Moria, Limpopo, and attended by the leadership of the church, said that ZCC members would be offered an opportunity to take up the Zion City Moria (ZCM) membership card.

“This card will serve as both a membership card as well as the member’s bank card,” reads the media statement.

“This ZCM membership card was the vision and initiative of His Grace, the Right Reverend Bishop Dr BE Lekganyane who took up the first official ZCM membership card at the launch.

“The first phase of the partnership is a pilot, which will see a smaller group of ZCC elders taken through TymeBank’s innovative kiosk-based on-boarding process, supported by newly recruited and trained Zetnet agents.

“Initially, ZCM card holders will be able to deposit and withdraw cash at any of the approximately 14,000 till points at Pick n Pay and Boxer stores nationally, as well as withdraw cash from any ATM.

“This pilot phase is being conducted in preparation for on-boarding far larger groups of church members throughout the remainder of 2020 and beyond.”

Motsepe has over the years been enjoying a great relationship with religious leaders, which sees the mining magnate donating millions of rands annually to various churches.

Tyme Bank spokesperson Ainsley Moos said ZCC members would get the same products as other bank clients.

He said ZCC had a membership of about 12-million churchgoers, of which nine million were based in SA.

“Approximately six million [ZCC members are] are adults.”

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