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South Africans have three banks to choose from that don’t require visiting a branch to open an account or perform a variety of everyday transactions — Bank Zero, Discovery Bank, and TymeBank.

MyBroadband compared these banks’ prices and user experiences to see which offered the best balance of good service and value.

For a comprehensive overview of user experience, we considered the app store ratings of each bank’s mobile app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store together.

We then calculated an average out of five for a user experience score.

Discovery Bank led the way in this area, with average ratings of 4.8 out of 5 on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

TymeBank performed second best with respective average ratings of 3.8 and 4.5 on the App Store and Play Store, giving it an overall user experience rating of 4.15.

However, there is some bias in its overall app rating as TymeBank appears to have very few clients on iPhone, yet the low App Store score significantly drags down its average.

Bank Zero, being the last to market, has only received a handful of reviews on the app stores.

While not overwhelmingly negative, its average of 3.55 was some way behind the more established banks.

User experience ratings
Bank Apple App Store rating Google Play Store rating Average user experience rating
Bank Zero 3.7/5 (46) 3.4/5 (120) 3.55
Discovery Bank 4.8/5 (38,100) 4.8/5 (31,000) 4.80
TymeBank 3.8/5 (823) 4.5/5 (57,000) 4.15

To account for the costs associated with these banks, we calculated an affordability score for each of their cheapest accounts.

To determine this, we first counted the combined costs of the following transactions on each bank account:

  • 5 payments
  • 2 cash deposits at point-of-sale
  • 3 cash withdrawals of R500 at point-of-sale
  • 3 prepaid airtime purchases
  • 1 instant payment of R1,000
  • 3 debit orders
  • 1 debit order dispute
  • 1 emailed statement
  • Monthly fee

The bank account with the lowest cost was TymeBank Debit, which worked out to R33.00 overall. It was awarded a 5 out of 5 rating for this top spot.

Bank Zero and Discovery Bank’s transaction baskets were much more expensive, at R62.40 and R83.40, respectively.

We calculated the inverse of these values and determined their affordability score relative to TymeBank’s.

The table below shows a cost breakdown for each bank account.

Transaction basket for affordability
Bank Zero Discovery Bank Gold TymeBank Debit
Payments (x5) No charge R2.50 No charge
Cash deposit (x2) R19.95* R19.95 per R5,000 First free
R7.00 per R1,000
R35.00 maximum
Cash withdrawal at till (x3) R2.00 R2.00 R3.00
Instant payment R8.50 R10.00 R7.00 per R1,000
R35.00 maximum
Debit orders (x3) No charge No charge No charge
Debit order dispute R8.00 R5.00 Before 60 days lapsed: R10.00
Older than 60 days: R60.00
Emailed statement (last 30 days) No charge No charge No charge
Buy prepaid airtime fee (x3) No charge No charge No charge
Monthly fee No charge R10.00 No charge
Basket cost R62.40 R83.40 R33.00
Affordability score 2.64 1.98 5.00
*Standard fee for third-party deposits at points-of-sale as Bank Zero does not yet offer deposits.

Armed with a user experience and affordability score for each bank, we calculated a combined overall rating out of 10.

TymeBank’s much cheaper transaction costs were a decisive element, rewarding it with five points on top of the 4.15 it achieved for user experience for an overall rating of 9.15 out of 10.

Although Discovery Bank fared better on user app store ratings, its high transactional costs put it in second place with a score of 6.78.

Bank Zero placed last with an overall rating of 6.19.

If the bank offered cash deposits and its rate was anywhere near as cheap as TymeBank’s, it would likely have ended in second place.

However, since it does not support this feature yet, we used the standard charge levied by retailers for deposits at points of sale to ensure a fair comparison.

The table below shows the overall rating for each bank based on their user experience and affordability scores.

Digital bank ratings
Bank User experience rating Affordability score Overall rating
Bank Zero 3.55 2.64 6.19/10
Discovery Bank 4.80 1.98 6.78/10
TymeBank 4.15 5.0 9.15/10
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