Bank of Israel approves first new Israeli bank in four decades

Check Point, Mobileye founders to establish digital bank serving households, without physical branches

By
September 24, 2019 23:57
3 minute read.
An Israeli flag flutters outside the Bank of Israel building in Jerusalem August 7, 2013

An Israeli flag flutters outside the Bank of Israel building in Jerusalem August 7, 2013. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

The Bank of Israel has announced that it has authorized Israeli businessmen Marius Nacht and Prof. Amnon Shashua to establish a new bank – the first such license granted in over four decades.

Check Point Software co-founder Nacht and Mobileye founder Shashua plan to establish a digital bank, without any physical branches, and focus on providing banking services to households.

The license was granted, the central bank said, after a comprehensive review process over the past year, including a “fit and proper examination” addressing the integrity and financial strength of both developers, in addition to supervising required regulatory measures.

Bank of Israel (BoI) governor Prof. Amir Yaron welcomed the move, highlighting technological developments enabling the establishment of new banking models.

“The model of digital banks has started operating in different countries in recent years, and is now being implemented in Israel as well,” he said.

“I attach great importance to the entry of new banks into the system, which is made possible by significant steps taken to remove entry barriers by the Bank of Israel and the Ministry of Finance,” he added. “I wish the entrepreneurs success in establishing the new bank, which I hope will lead to increased competition and innovation in banking in Israel.”

Like existing banks, the new bank established by Nacht and Shashua will be monitored by the BoI’s Supervisor of Banks, which aims to ensure financial stability and the safeguarding of depositors’ funds. The new bank will have access to all of the Bank of Israel’s liquidity instruments, including monetary loans and deposits.

“We are proud to be the first group in 40 years to receive a license from the state to establish a new bank in Israel,” Nacht and Shashua said in a joint statement.

“Of course, we congratulate the Bank of Israel and the Finance Ministry on their vision and courage to lead a move encouraging innovation and competition in banking. It is worth noting that we are in the early stages of formation and have a long road ahead of us.”

Nacht, one of Israel’s leading entrepreneurs and investors, made his fortune as co-founder of cybersecurity company Check Point. He is also the co-founder of and anchor investor in leading healthcare and life sciences innovation venture-capital firm aMoon.

Computer vision expert Shashua is the president and CEO of Jerusalem-based Mobileye. In 2017, the dominant vision technology company was acquired for $15.3 billion by Intel Corporation, where Shashua serves as senior vice president.

BoI said that receipt of the necessary banking license and control permit will enable the entrepreneurs to advance and complete the operational and regulatory preparations required to begin the new bank’s operations, in addition to recruiting management and a board of directors.

“Granting the license for the new bank is an important step for competition, implementing the banking reform that we commenced four years ago in the Strum Committee,” said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

“I expect the Bank of Israel to accelerate the process and issue additional licenses. There are a number of groups waiting for banking permits, and I sincerely hope that they will also receive good news soon in order to increase competition and to benefit consumers and businesses in the State of Israel.”

According to the central bank, the establishment of the new bank follows a series of measures to reduce entry barriers into the banking industry.

These include reducing the amount of initial capital required from NIS 400 million to NIS 50 million, the establishment of a credit sharing database, and the formation of a Licensing and New Banks Unit to guide applicants through all stages of the licensing process.


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