Our personal experience with Tymebank after it being operational for almost a year in South Africa
One word summary: Bad
We’ve all dreamed of banks that are cheaper, more user friendly and not run by some crony.
In the past year we’ve seen a slur of new banks open up, most of them so called “virtual banks” or “E-banks”. All promising lower monthly fees, better interest rates and even reward points from third parties.
One of the most notable and promising ones was Tymebank. Advertising no monthly fees, access to your money at any Pick n Pay and even up to 10% interest on their savings accounts.
It sounded like a dream come true and as tech savvy as I am combined with my dreams for a digital distopia. I was one of the first in line for a new digital bank account.
Below I’ll lay out the experiences I’ve had so far.
The signup process was easy and effortless, go online submit your documentation answer a few questions and you’re done, 5 minutes at most or so I thought.
I added some money to my new account and went on to try and buy some stuff at my local Pick n Pay (This was before they started issuing bank cards) with full trust in the Tymebank system.
I opened my Tymebank app ( which is still a very crude app and their website is even more primitive) I started to request a withdrawal code and to my surprise I had to still complete my sign up at one of the mustardy-yellow self-service kiosks that they’ve placed in every Pick n Pay.
I apologised to the cashier and asked if I can quickly complete the verification and come back, she said it was fine. I got to the self-service kiosk and it was dead, not even plugged in.
I called the manager and asked if she can assist me, only for her to tell me that they haven’t been trained and that the machine is not connected.
Even today, almost a year after their roll out, most Tymebank machines are down, just go have a look at your local Pick n Pay.
First-time use second attempt
It’s in my nature to always retry something. I found a self-service kiosk that was operational and completed my registration.
Got my withdrawal code and went with a new-found confidence to the cashier. Ready to spend my money all with the type of one simple code, accept the cashier had no clue how to use it. In fact no employee in the shop had a clue.
No one trained them, no one told them, and I was the first to ask them ( by the way this happened to one of my dear friends too, he actually lost his money due to an untrained cashier misusing the code and losing a whole R300.)
I’ve only been able to use Tymebank successfully once after convincing the cashier to allow me to use her terminal to type in the code.
Changing/updating your information
I had to update my mobile number once as you need the OTP to actually do anything on their service platform and the only way to update it is via the self-service kiosk, and the only way to access the self-service kiosk is via the OTP. I was so amused by this when I picked up the error in their logic, only in South Africa I thought.
After 30 minutes on hold to speak to their support, I was finally informed, that the mobile number update function is currently offline.
Issuing of Tymebank card.
After six months of no confidence in this new bank. I finally decided to give it one more go and thought it would be nice to at least have a Tymebank card, then I wouldn’t need to rely on their app or their delayed support.
After keeping an eye on the kiosks as I went to different Pick n Pay shops for the past few months. I finally found a kiosk that was working, with cards available. This has been my third try, and have found most of their kiosks don’t have bank cards in that are ready to be issued.
Getting the card was easy and fast at least.
Sending and receiving money
Receiving money is easy and usually shows after 6PM on weekdays, however I’ve had one incident where a transaction almost took a week to clear into a friend’s Tymebank account. He called Tymebank and was informed they cannot see transactions and can’t do anything to speed up or track a transaction.
Sending money is like any other bank and haven’t had any complaints I do feel the instant transfer function is we all wanted.
Tymebank is a great concept with a terrible roll out and even a worse support system. No interest rate is worth the hassle they make you go through. I would not advise to try it or even trusting money with them.
So what went wrong?
One could only speculate, but if I were to, I would say that it came down to poor project management and third party companies rushing to get their invoices paid by Tymebank for the web, app and physical systems they developed. Rather than to push the deadlines and ensure a good service delivery, component staff and technology that is operational and ready. They opted to stay on deadline and deliver subpar work that have placed the whole entity at risk. I fear hackers will have a blast at this bank, due to the failed rollouts.
On top of that they’re logo does not inspire trust in them being a leading digital entity. Then there’s the colour. They went against every instinct and went with their urine-orange colour, which by the way has been shown in recent studies to be the least popular colour as it reminds people of the colour of urine or faeces. Not very inspiring.
The bad looking website and poorly designed apps all add to one conclusion, a rush job. Forcing it to market without adequate resources.
It’ll be interesting to see how long Pick n Pay will hold the brand or how it might try to rescue it.
Hopefully other digital banks like Bank Zero will show more promise when they finally open.
Let us know what your experience with Tymbank has been like.