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The interactive FNB globe

FNB’s new tablet app: another link in the lifestyle banking chain

Last week, FNB launched its new banking app for Android, iOS, Windows 8 and BlackBerry tablets. With its tablet and smartphone app, as well as its new dotFNB stores, FNB is now in the enviable position of launching itself as a “lifestyle banking” experience, if it wants to.

Steven Norris
Steven Norris is a born writer, living in Claremont, Cape Town and educated in the ways of graphic design but destined to follow in the footsteps of... More

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The app is fairly unique in South Africa (according to FNB anyway), as it lets non-FNB customers create a banking account in “minutes”. FNB stated that it has over 450 000 active users of its smartphone app, yet 26% of those customers were accessing the app on tablets — using the ‘2x’ screen function no less. FNB’s tablet-optimized app address that and stands head and shoulders over the mobile versions, offering graphical flourishes and exclusive banking features that would be ill-suited to a smaller screen.

FNB says it well: “The new banking app, designed specifically for tablet devices, was developed with ease-of-use as a key priority and utilises the full capability of the latest tablet devices. It is completely custom-made and not a re-skin of our existing smartphone App.” In total, the app took six to eight months to roll out.

Forming factors

The tablet app is, unabashedly, leagues ahead of the mobile version. A drag and drop interface, anthropomorphic in nature, creates a virtual wallet where accounts are turned into interactive images of the user’s bank cards. The mobile phone app had a simpler drop-down menu which now seems archaic in nature.

FNB tablet app screenshot

Dragging and dropping card looks just like this, minus the Band-Aids that hide my account details

Key to the friendly, lifestyle-centric image FNB is keen to project with the app is the Promotions Globe. An interactive sphere, layered with promotions can be freely rotated so that users can pick and choose content that’s relevant to them. It’s a slightly needless graphical flourish that can thankfully be switched to a Pulse-style promotions aggregator. FNB also mentioned that the promotions content will be customized to each users banking preference, so (for instance) expect to see home loan specials for those who finance their property through FNB, one of South Africa’s best banks, according to a survey conducted by Businesstech.

FNB knows tablets

And it knows that tablets are the future, for better or for worse. Innovative banking products are par for the course. In 2009, FNB launched “FNB Connect”, a prepaid product divided into Surf (prepaid DSL) and Talk (Skype-like application now embedded into FNB’s banking apps) that simplified the inherent hassles, at least in 2009, surrounding ADSL. FNB said that “Customers weren’t ready for this. They couldn’t get their heads around the fact that it was now cheaper to call the US, than to make a landline call from Cape Town to Johannesburg.” But FNB, now 175 years old and barely showing its age thanks to its adherence to modern technology, has plans far beyond the reach of private and public banking. It wants your digital and fiscal life to stop and start with FNB.

The straight path

It starts online, or at one of the dotFNB stores, the new retail face of FNB. You walk into an Apple-like store, gleaming with polished white tables and the odd Microsoft Surface. Sit down, discuss the options as you would with any mobile phone retail outlet, purchase a tablet/smartphone/laptop and FNB garnishes the monthly deductions from your account. The mobile devices come with the app preloaded, so you never really have to leave the FNB ecosystem it’s worked hard to create.

With tablet sales growing 78.4% year-on-year according to research firm IDC (and PC sales nosediving), FNB’s set its sights firmly on a powerful, almost bespoke banking experience via tablets. “Customisation is crucial for tablets because of their popularity globally and in South Africa. Tablet devices are important enough to have their own roadmap,” the bank says.