Pioneering Shared Value in Digital Banking

Pioneering Shared Value in Digital Banking with Hylton Kallner

In this latest podcast, “Pioneering Shared Value in Digital Banking with Hylton Kallner”, Darren Franks chats with Hylton Kallner, at Discovery Bank.

Welcome back to Talking Success, one of the Best FinTech podcasts globally! In this episode, Hylton provides an insightful overview of the bank’s journey and offerings, which have transformed the financial landscape in South Africa and garnered attention from international markets. For those who don’t know, Discovery Bank is a prominent financial institution in South Africa, widely recognised for its innovative approach to banking. As a subsidiary of Discovery Group, it leverages the company’s established reputation in health and life insurance.

Hylton’s Journey with Discovery

Hylton’s career with Discovery spans nearly three decades, beginning as an actuary and evolving through various roles, particularly in the Vitality shared value behavioural programme. This programme, initially focused on health and driving, has now extended into the realm of banking. Hylton’s transition to banking represents a natural progression aligned with Discovery’s mission to apply its shared value model across different sectors.

The Shared Value Model in Banking

Discovery Bank stands out as the world’s first shared value bank, aligning its interests with those of its clients. The core idea is that by promoting positive financial behaviours, such as spending less than one earns and saving for retirement, the bank can reduce clients’ credit risk. This, in turn, allows the bank to offer better rewards and interest rates, creating a win-win situation for both the bank and its customers. The shared value model, successfully applied in health and life insurance, is now revolutionising the banking sector.

A Fully Digital Banking Experience

Discovery Bank is a digital-first institution with no physical branches, offering a comprehensive suite of banking services entirely through its app. This includes everything from basic transactions to sophisticated financial products like credit cards and Forex accounts. The bank’s app is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, ensuring that most issues can be resolved digitally. However, recognising the importance of human interaction in financial matters, Discovery Bank provides 24/7 access to qualified bankers via phone, ensuring support is always available when needed.

Innovative Customer Service

One of the standout features of Discovery Bank is its innovative approach to customer service. When clients call the bank’s call centre, agents can see a real-time mirror image of the client’s app, allowing them to guide the client with precision. This technology ensures that clients receive accurate and efficient assistance, enhancing their overall banking experience. Additionally, all call centre agents have tertiary qualifications in finance, economics, or accounting, ensuring they are well-equipped to handle a wide range of queries.

Comprehensive Banking Products

Discovery Bank offers a range of banking products to cater to diverse client needs. From basic pay-as-you-transact accounts to comprehensive private banking services, the bank ensures accessibility across different demographic segments. The ability to add various products, such as Forex accounts and credit facilities, with just a few clicks, makes the banking experience seamless and flexible. The recent addition of mortgage products further completes the bank’s offering, providing clients with a full spectrum of personal banking services.

Forex Transactions Simplified

Forex transactions, often perceived as complex and cumbersome, have been streamlined by Discovery Bank. By digitising the process and integrating it into their app, the bank has made it easier for clients to send and receive foreign currency. The app tracks and aggregates all Forex transactions, ensuring compliance with exchange control regulations. This not only simplifies the process but also enhances transparency and reporting for clients.

Strategic Partnerships and Ecosystem Development

Discovery Bank strategically partners with other companies to enhance its product offerings. For instance, the bank collaborates with EasyEquities for equity trading, integrating their platform seamlessly into the Discovery Bank app. This partnership allows clients to trade equities without leaving the banking ecosystem. In the travel sector, Discovery has built its own booking system, offering significant discounts and streamlined booking processes as part of its rewards programme. These partnerships and in-house developments create a comprehensive and integrated banking ecosystem.

The Importance of Mortgages

Mortgages are a critical component of personal financial planning. In South Africa, home loans amount to over a trillion rand, making them the largest asset class by size. For most individuals, their home is their most significant asset, both financially and sentimentally. Understanding this, Discovery Bank has prioritised making the mortgage process as efficient and beneficial as possible for its clients. The mortgage application process is notoriously complex, involving extensive paperwork and multiple steps, including approval from the bank and registration by conveyancers. Discovery Bank has rethought every aspect of this journey, aiming to simplify it through digital means. The goal is to make applying for a home loan or switching an existing loan to Discovery Bank a seamless experience.

Innovative Mortgage Solutions

Discovery Bank’s mortgage product stands out due to its adaptive interest rate model. Traditional mortgages lock in a repayment rate for decades, despite changes in the borrower’s financial circumstances. Discovery Bank’s approach, however, allows the interest rate to adjust based on the borrower’s ongoing financial health. This innovative model ensures that clients are not overcharged as their financial situation improves over time.

Digital Integration and Automation

Discovery Bank’s mortgage process is fully automated and integrated into its digital platform. Changes in a client’s financial status, such as increased savings or reduced unsecured credit, are reflected in real-time and can positively impact their mortgage rate. This integration ensures that clients benefit from a fair and responsive interest rate throughout the term of their mortgage. The response to Discovery Bank’s mortgage offering has been overwhelmingly positive. Clients appreciate the ease of the digital application process and the potential for reduced interest rates over time. Looking ahead, Discovery Bank aims to continue innovating in the mortgage sector, providing even more value to its clients.

Discovery Bank is transforming the mortgage landscape in South Africa through its digital-first approach and shared value model. By simplifying the application process, offering dynamic interest rates, and leveraging strategic partnerships, Discovery Bank provides a compelling alternative to traditional mortgage lenders. As the bank continues to innovate, it is set to remain at the forefront of digital banking and financial services.


Discovery Bank is a digital-first financial institution that operates without physical branches. Unlike traditional banks, Discovery Bank offers a fully digital banking experience through its app, providing a range of financial services including savings accounts, credit cards, and mortgages. The bank leverages the shared value model, rewarding clients for positive financial behaviours.

The shared value model is central to Discovery Bank’s operations. It incentivises clients to manage their finances responsibly. By engaging in positive financial behaviours—such as saving regularly, reducing unsecured credit, and maintaining insurance—clients can improve their Vitality Money status. Higher Vitality Money status can lead to lower interest rates on loans and other financial benefits.

Discovery Bank employs advanced security measures to protect its clients’ information and transactions. These measures include multi-factor authentication, end-to-end encryption, and continuous monitoring for fraudulent activities. The bank is committed to maintaining high standards of digital security to ensure the safety and confidentiality of client data.

Discovery Bank integrates seamlessly with other Discovery products, such as Vitality and Discovery Insure. Clients can manage their health, insurance, and financial services through a single platform, benefiting from comprehensive rewards and incentives. For example, by engaging in healthy behaviours through Vitality, clients can earn discounts and benefits that are reflected in their banking services.

Opening an account with Discovery Bank is a straightforward process that can be completed entirely online. Prospective clients need to download the Discovery Bank app, complete the registration process, and submit the required identification documents for verification. The app guides users through each step, making the process quick and convenient