Nir Zuk, the US-Israeli founder of cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks, is teaming up with a former top securities regulator Shmuel Hauser to set up a new digital bank in Israel, Calcalist reported on Monday, without saying where it got the information.
Hauser was the chairman of the Israel Securities Authority from 2011 to 2017.
Zuk has already invested tens of millions of dollars into the venture, the report said, and next week will start raising a target of hundreds of millions of shekels for the new bank from institutional investors at a valuation of half a billion dollars.
The entrepreneurs behind the venture have already started advanced processes to get a license from the Bank of Israel, the report said.
The digital bank will focus on offering financial products and loans to customers, without the option of current accounts, Calcalist said.
The initiative follows in the heels of a new fully digital bank set up by Amnon Shashua, the nation’s first new bank in more than 40 years. The lender started trial operations last month after it received a banking license from the Bank of Israel in 2019, in a bid to inject competition into the sector. The digital bank hopes to offer services, including current accounts, to the wider public toward the end of the year. Shashua is also the co-founder of Mobileye, a Jerusalem based maker of self-driving technologies, acquired by Intel Corp. in 2017 for a massive $15.3 billion.
Zuk, a former engineer at Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies, set up the competing Santa Clara, California-based Palo Alto Networks in 2005. The US firm, whose shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange, has a market value of $34.4 billion. Zuk, the founder and CTO of Palo Alto Networks, reportedly returned to live in Israel this year, taking advantage of the company’s remote working policy, after spending more than 20 years in the US.
Commenting on the Calcalist report, the Bank of Israel said that as part of the development of competition, the banking supervising department guides a variety of initiatives that are interested in starting future banking activities. “We cannot directly specifically comment on any one of these efforts,” the text message said.