Everything You Need To Know About Africa’s First 100% Black-Owned Digital Bank, Azar Digital Bank

Updated on 15 December 2017

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Lebo Gunguluza, Dragon’s Den investor and founder of the Gunguluza Enterprises and Media Group (New GEM Group), is looking to shake up the continent’s fintech landscape with the launch of Azar Digital Bank, Africa’s first 100% black-owned digital bank.

Launched this week in Johannesburg, Azar is a neo-banking and global mobile payments platform that directly charges the user’s mobile phone balance, wallet, or bank account, according to ITWeb, and forms part of New GEM Group – a black-owned integrated media, technology, communications and hospitality group’s fintech division.

Here is everything there is to know about Gunguluza’s Azar and its bid to disrupt the banking sector.

What Is It About?:
Azar aims to give customers high-level access to banking in real-time and absolute transparency, states ITWeb.

“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,” says Gunguluza in the article.

What You Can Do On The Platform:
Users, the article states, are at the moment able to deposit money into their mobile accounts through EFT, make a direct deposit at any Barclays (Absa) ATM as well as perform peer-to-peer, e-top-ups and wallet top-ups at mobile wallet agents.

The Tech Behind The Tech:
Thabang Kekana, Azar co-founder and fintech entrepreneur, says that the platform will utilise “an AzarNexus NFC (near field communication) enabled sticker or an Azar Halo Ring to transact. Kekana adds that the sticker, which is attached to the back of the mobile device and ring will include customers’ account information and will then allow and process smart payments.

The tech follows the Mna Nam by Laduma bracelet, a tech-enabled bracelet designed to help users save which launched early this year by Sanlam and fashion designer Laduma Ngxokolo.

“Azar has multifactor authentication security. Most importantly, only you possess your SIM in your phone and only you can authorise a transaction using your four-digit PIN or Azar biometric authentication. Even if someone takes your phone, you’re the only one with the PIN or fingerprint,” Kekana says.


Banking and global mobile payments platform Azar will use the Azar Halo Ring to transact.


Target Market:
 Gunguluza describes his company’s move into fintech as a no-brainer adding that Azar’s primary target market is the over 15 million smartphone users between the ages of 16 and 34 in South Africa.

“The platform will make retail banking highly accessible to the youth and the unbanked African countries by using technology, mobile and artificial intelligence that is targeted at the millennials,” says Kekana further states.

The company aim to have the platform function locally and internationally, he says.

Part Of An Emerging Trend
The digital banking space in South Africa saw the announcement of another player in September. Commonwealth Bank SA’s TymeDigital was issued a banking operating licence to operate a digital bank by the SA Reserve Bank. South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe is one of TymeDigital’s backers though African Rainbow Capital.


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