According to Financial Times, TymeBank has become the continent’s first digital lender to break even after entering South Africa’s banking scene four years ago. With a valuation of $965 million, TymeBank ranks 21st in Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies by FT-Statista and aims to be among the top three fastest-growing banks in South Africa. Backed by billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital, the bank launched in February 2019 with a youth-targeted campaign, amassing 9 million customers and turning a profit by December 2023.

TymeBank plans to raise at least $100 million this year to further expand, including its operations in the Philippines and Vietnam under the Tyme Group umbrella. The bank initially attracted South Africans with a zero-fee debit card and high-interest savings accounts, addressing the needs of the 20% unbanked or underbanked population. It also acquired fintech loan company Retail Capital in 2022 and offers health and funeral insurance. Customers can easily open accounts online or at self-service kiosks in major retail locations.

Despite its success, TymeBank faces challenges in converting account holders into primary banking customers, particularly in lower-income segments with high unemployment and fluid living arrangements. The bank is working on a brand refresh and new products to appeal to wealthier customers and increase transaction activity. CEO Coen Jonker highlights the importance of developing a strategy to attract more transactions and ensure long-term customer loyalty.

TymeBank’s competition includes both legacy banks and fintech companies like MTN, which reported significant growth in digital payments. The bank’s short-term, collateral-free loans to small businesses are another competitive area but come with risks, given South Africa’s economic challenges and high unemployment rates. Jonker remains confident in TymeBank’s loan underwriting, tested during the COVID lockdown. Looking ahead, the bank aims to replicate its South African success in the Philippines, where it is already the fastest-growing bank.

We are looking forward to hosting Cheslyn Jacobs, Chief Commercial Officer at TymeBank, South Africa at the 4th Annual Banking Transformation Africa Summit on 15 – 16 August 2024.