Bank Zero, a new app-driven bank in South Africa, has gone live with its debit card, bringing the bank a step closer to launching public operations.

After making the card live, the bank is currently performing simulated card attacks, card fraud detection and retailer readiness checks.

Statistics from the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) showed that cardholders in the country lost ZAR873m ($58.6m) in theft last year.

Bank Zero said that its new patented debit card is designed to provide security from data theft and skimming.

The bank worked with Mastercard teams in South Africa, India and the US to develop the card. It also leveraged IBM’s encrypted card security expertise.

Bank Zero chair Michael Jordaan said: “Globally, banks are big spenders on such projects, often spanning multiple years, but sweat capital along with an integrated business-and-tech design approach is our strategic advantage.”

Bank Zero CEO Yatin Narsai added: “Zero pricing, along with our advanced card security, are just some of the ways in which we make our customers’ lives easier.

“We also bring special functionality around social connectedness, transparency, control, advanced payments and a focus on savings.”

Over the past year, the bank integrated into the South African Reserve Bank’s system and created electronic payments (EFTs) and debit orders. It also prepared to issue and process debit cards.

The bank intends to actively use the first cards and test the cards’ international usage before starting public operations in the first half of next year.