First Digital Bank in Israel has commenced a pilot run, becoming the first independent lender in the country to start operations since 1978.

Under the trial run, the bank started opening accounts and offering all banking services to a closed number of customers. In the third quarter of 2021, it aims to offer its services to 1,000 additional customers.

A general rollout is expected by the end of this year.

According to a Reuters report, Intel’s autonomous car business Mobileye co-founder Amnon Shashua founded First Digital Bank.

Shashua has invested around $60m into the venture as the bank aims to secure new funds to expand its operations.

Primarily, First Digital Bank will offer retail services digitally with no brick-and-mortar presence. All operations will be conducted online including opening a new bank account.

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The scope of services is expected to include personal accounts, joint accounts, loans, deposits, credit cards and foreign currencies among others. The bank also intends to add mortgage services to its service portfolio in future.

Additionally, the bank is expected to leverage artificial intelligence and other new technologies to meet customer requirements.

Currently, First Digital Bank has 140 employees.

Last week, Bank Leumi, one of the largest lenders in Israel, reported a 40% drop in net income in 2020.

The drop was primarily attributed to an increase in loan loss expenses.