New Czech lender Air Bank takes pre-launch breather

New Czech lender Air Bank has postponed its launch as it tries to make sure potential problems have been ironed out

The start-up Czech bank Air Bank is leaving is prospective customers in the lurch while it tries to clear-up potential teething problems.

The bank, set up by the Czech financial group PPF controlled by Czech billionaire, says it has put back its planned opening on the market by a few weeks, promising to allow customers to open accounts by Nov. 24 at the latest. The precise date for the bank to be launched has still to be set.

Tests have “taken a bit more time than we first planned,”  the bank said in a statement. A banking license was awarded in May of this year and the bank was originally scheduled to launch at the end of September to start of October.

Banking on itself

Air Bank has a heavy emphasis on Internet services banking. The PPF group has picked out banking as a business where it can go it alone and develop rather than going into joint ventures with other companies, such as in the energy sector where a three-way partnership was established with Energetický a průmyslový holding (EPH).  

Another new lender, Zuno bank, a subsidiary of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank, launched in July with the aim of seizing customers from a handful of traditional large Czech banks through lower fees and higher interest rates.

Czechs have traditionally railed against high banking charges from the country’s biggest banks, which are all majority owned by foreign companies following a wave of privatizations a decade ago after the institutions faced severe problems from bad loans, often awarded in cozy, crony circumstances.