Discovery’s steady march towards building the most substantial banking and insurance business in SA since FirstRand unbundled MMI in 2010 continues apace, even if this week’s half-year results didn’t exactly shoot out the lights. At the results presentation this week, Discovery CEO Adrian Gore revealed an 11% drop in net income to R24.4bn — but all eyes were on how much money the company is ploughing into its much-awaited new bank. Of course, starting a new bank was never going to be cheap, even if Discovery is going the less capital-intensive route by not setting up branches. Already, Gore’s company has spent R1.8bn to get full control of the Discovery Card (it was a venture with FNB) and invested R2.6bn in various systems and infrastructure for the bank — R200m ahead of budget. It is significantly more than the other newcomers, TymeBank and Bank Zero, have spent as they’ve made use of cheaper options such as cloud computing and mainframes about the size of a bar fridge. But Gore s...

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