Making Social Banking a Reality: The Story of 1bank4all

8 Min Read

What is your name? Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Christian Heyner and I am the President of the 1bank4all Founding Association. I have previously worked for most of the large banks in Switzerland and Germany. I could describe myself as someone who is very passionate about social banking and making a social impact in the world.

Christian Heyner, President of the 1bank4all Founding Association

Tell us about 1bank4all and your plan for Africa?

1bank4all is a start-up project that aims at creating the first truly global social bank. In Africa we have defined 10 focus countries, where we already have associations or initiative people active who want to create 1bank4all in their country. The plan is to be operating 10 local African banks in 2019/2020.

This innovative social bank will provide all kinds of genuine people and businesses with access to much needed financial services at very affordable prices. We will help further such important aspects as education and employment.

1bank4all will be a bank for everyone- whether it is the C.E.O of a fortune 500 company or a small trader at a local market. As a financial technology (Fintech) start-up, we shall operate as an internet-based bank, which will enable all users to access financial services from anywhere in the world. All they will need is access to the internet and either a phone or computer to transact with.

Our plan for Africa is to connect people to 1bank4all’s platform to help them access essential services, regardless of their location. In Africa we have defined 10 focus countries, where we already have associations or initiative people active who want to create 1bank4all in their country. The plan is to be operating 10 local African banks in by 2020.

Why a bank?

Due to the regulatory framework which is in place in most countries around the world only a bank can offer the full range of financial services.

In today’s modern world, it is very essential for individuals, businesses and communities to be able to have fair and inclusive financial services. In this way, 1bank4all will aid in improving the quality of lives of the disadvantaged of society.

Furthermore, we live in a ‘global village’ where ease of access and affordability of monetary transfers and foreign exchange rates is being sought after. 1bank4all will offer international money transfers at low prices, with no hidden fees or policies.

What will be the niche i.e what makes it special from the banks already in operation there?

1bank4all is a social business! All companies who call themselves a “social business” have the same mission: “People before Profit!” A social business should also make profit, but most of the profit is re-invested in social projects!

In addition, 1bank4all wants to offer services for everyone including those who are termed as the ‘unbanked’. In line with our mission statement, which is to ‘empower people at the speed of light’, we feel there is a great need for financial inclusion in the world.

1bank4all is special because our main aim is to improve the lives of people and help alleviate poverty.  Several banks aim at making profits even if it curtails the growth and progress of the communities they are benefiting from.  1bank4all is also sustainable and ecological, as the banking will be done via the internet.

Who are the target and how will it benefit Africa?

Our target market consists of people and organisations who are interested in being part of an ethical and social bank. These could be consumers of retail banking; social banking; to those who have no bank accounts or access to financial services.

1bank4all will benefit Africa by empowering the large group of people who are otherwise considered not credit-worthy by conventional banks or who have to pay very high interest rates.

Why in Africa?

1bank4all aims to be a global social bank with a thriving world-wide community. In Africa we currently have 10 focus countries, where we are working towards creating local 1bank4all branches. The African continent is rapidly growing and the fast economic growth needs to be complemented by attractive financial services.

What do you think about the narrative that Africa is rising?

Africa is truly rising and opening up to the world. Apart from impressive developments taking place, the social conditions and rights of individuals and societies are being addressed, step by step.

What would you tell someone interested in investing in Africa?

Africa has endless opportunities for those who are committed to investing on the continent. Yes, there are several challenges to overcome along the way, but it is possible.

I would advise a potential investor to try out the following rules and guidelines:

  1. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (African Proverb)
  2. Create a reliable network of trustworthy people in order to overcome confidence issues.
  3. Become part of a well-designed ecosystem where trust and quality are the main pillars.

I would also encourage them to take a leap of faith, do their research on the ground and adapt their products or services to suit the local cultures and environments.

What do you think Africa needs to do to increase investment opportunities?

There are a number of elements, which will help Africa a lot to attract huge investments:

  • Adapt available technologies fast. The internet and also the block-chain technology come with a huge opportunity for transparency, which will help to reduce bribes and corruption.
  • Focus on the many opportunities that Africa has to offer! If you are a patient investor and very much interested in a social impact as well, you will be highly rewarded.
  • Educate people and pay them decent salaries, in order to stop the brain drain.

African countries still face some hurdles. In order to solve these issues, the youth will play a major role!

Any final thoughts?

I am looking forward to connecting with a variety of people and organisations who love our mission, which is to improve people’s lives at the speed of light!