Digital Banking: Israel’s Central Bank Issues Conditional License for New Virtual Bank: Esh Bank Israel

Israel’s reserve bank recently issued a conditional license for the launch of the nation’s second virtual bank, which is being co-led by Nir Zuk, the American-Israeli founder of the cybersecurity company, Palo Alto Networks, Inc.

As first reported by The Times of Israel, Bank of Israel governor Amir Yaron and Supervisor of Banks Yair Avidan noted that after the review and inspection process, the reserve bank chief is prepared to offer a banking and control permit for the new bank, known as Esh Bank Israel, Ltd.

This recent approval is reportedly the second license in the past three years that the Bank of Israel has given. This is being done to increase competition in the concentrated banking industry that’s being dominated by a few large institutions.

As reported by local sources, Esh will be all-digital, will not have any physical branch locations, and will primarily focus on banking-related services for households, and smaller businesses, including offering credit, handling deposits and current accounts, and offering flexible payment services.

The former head of the Israel Securities Authority Prof. Shmuel Hauser will reportedly take on the role of the chair of the virtual bank.

Zuk, an ex-engineer at Israel’s cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies, launched the California-headquartered Palo Alto Networks back in 2005.

The founding group also includes Yuval Aloni and Kobi Malkin, an ex-CEO of Bank Massad, who will be working as Chief Executive Officer of Esh.

Yaron remarked:

“We see great importance in the entry of banks and additional new players into the banking system in Israel, so that they contribute to increasing competition and innovation in the financial system. It is evident that the group of entrepreneurs is diverse and brings with it strengths in various fields, including entrepreneurs with international technological and business experience.”

Hauser added:

“We have a long way to go. The uniqueness of our bank is the synergy between technology and banking. This will be reflected in attractive interest rates, banking services without commissions, without subscription fees, and without preconditions, such as salary transfer.”

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