Published on 26 Sep 2022

Singapore digital bank to replicate South African low-cost banking model in Asia

Tyme says there are similarities between South Africa and Asian emerging markets

Singapore-based digital banking group Tyme, which acquired five million customers in South Africa since its launch three years ago now wants to replicate its offering in other emerging markets, including the Philippines and Pakistan.

TymeBank, was the first foreign digital bank to be granted a commercial banking license in South Africa since 1999. It launched in February 2019 and pioneered an account with no monthly fee. The bank does not have any physical branches. Instead, it has over 700 self-help kiosks at Pick-n-Pay and Boxer supermarkets where customers can open an account and print a Visa debit card in minutes. No documents are needed, customers just need their identity number and mobile phone. Biometric and other data are captured at the kiosk. Account holders can deposit and withdraw money at any till point at these supermarkets and perform other transactions through the TymeBank app and online banking site.

TymeBank has also introduced a buy-now, pay-later offering, which enables qualifying customers to purchase retail products by paying only 50% of the price upfront and the balance over a pre-agreed period. In February 2022, it launched a credit card in a move to attract customers from the middle and upper-middle income groups. 

African Rainbow Capital, founded by South African businessman Patrice Motsepe, is the largest shareholder of Tyme. In 2021, Tyme secured US$180m additional investment from Tencent, private equity firm Apis, JG Summit and British International Investment, the UK’s development finance institution, as part of its Series B fundraise.

Following its traction in South Africa, Tyme has cast its eye to Asia. Coenraad Jonker, executive chairman of Tyme, told Business Insider that the group decided to establish a Singapore-based holding company for tax reasons and because companies in Asia feel more comfortable doing business with a Singapore-based entity. In the Philippines, Tyme has partnered with Filipino conglomerate Gokongwei Group to launch the GoTyme digital bank, slated to go live in the third quarter of 2022. GoTyme will leverage Gokongwei’s extensive mall and retail footprint to roll out its digital kiosks. In addition, Tyme has recently secured a banking licence in Pakistan where 77% of the 220 million population is underbanked.

Commenting on Tyme’s expansion to Asia, Rachel Freeman, the group’s chief growth officer in Singapore, said South Africa has more in common with Asian emerging markets than with many other African countries. She explained Tyme’s low-cost offering works best in highly populated countries where banking is expensive, adding that its model of kiosks in grocery stores has good potential in Asian countries where many people live far from brick-and-mortar bank branches.

In South Africa, TymeBank, now faces competition from supermarket chain Shoprite Holdings. At the end of August, the retailer rolled out a full-fledged transactional bank account. Like TymeBank, Shoprite’s Money Market Account has no monthly fees. Customers can perform banking transactions from their phones or at any Shoprite, Checkers or Usave till point. Shoprite Holdings has well over 1,000 South African stores.



TymeBank may soon be owned via Singapore, as Filipino version of bank takes shape’, Business Insider South Africa, 23 February 2021

ARC Investments 2021 integrated annual report’, African Rainbow Capital Investments, 2021

TymeBank launches credit card in response to customer needs’, African Rainbow Capital, 03 February 2022

TymeBank investor presentation at AVIOR corporate summit’, Tyme, 9 June 2022

Meet South Africa’s lowest cost bank account’, Shoprite Holdings, 30 August 2022

Full year financial results for the twelve-month period to 30 June 2022’, African Rainbow Capital Investments, 13 September 2022

TymeBank, Rain boost ARC portfolio value’, Moneyweb, 13 September 2022

Our TymeBank story’, TymeBank, Accessed 20 September 2022

Singapore and Africa: A South-South story’, International Finance Corporation, September 2022

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