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This has been coming for a while. South African banking giant FNB has confirmed plans to launch its own mobile network, with SIM cards set to be issued to its customers.
The move comes after months of speculation and is just the latest attempt by the bank to diversify outside of its traditional banking products.
Currently FNB offers ADSL and 3G data rewards through its FNB Connect offering, which will now be expanded to include mobile voice and data products. The bank is already established in the telecommunications space with over 2 million customers topping up with airtime and bundles monthly and over 285 000 discounted smart devices sold since 2011.
“Mobility and banking innovation are now synonymous in the minds of FNB customers, we are excited to launch a South African first for banking via FNB Connect as the next step in our digital evolution,” says Jacques Celliers, CEO of FNB.
SIM cards will be sold separately from devices and customers will be able to choose from a range of mobile voice and data products. “The FNB Connect mobile offering will add value to our customers’ lives as it is seamlessly integrated into all our banking systems,” adds Celliers.
In launching this kind of network, which leverages on the infrastructure of the bigger traditional mobile operators, FNB is joining an increasingly competitive space. In April, for instance, the ecommerce-based network Me & You opened up shop. The new players will however be hoping that they do better than the likes of Virgin Mobile, which has struggled despite years of trying to crack the South African market.
The integration of this offering with digital platforms such as FNB’s Online Banking will afford customers the benefit of a single login to simultaneously manage their financial and mobile accounts. This provides peace of mind knowing that the same advanced security that protects customers’ financial accounts will also protect their mobile accounts.
According to FNB, customers will also have the option to port their existing cellphone number through FNB’s electronic banking channels.
“The core offering will be the Flexi Package, which is unique as customers can manage their account by creating their own mobile package and have the ability to change it every month,” says Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO of FNB Connect.
One of the more interesting features of FNB’s network will see customers topped up automatically when their airtime balance drops below R5.
FNB also claims that transparency and the ability for customers to control their spend are made possible by electronic features such as real time call transaction history, ability to set bill limits and setting notifications.
In line with the bank’s strategy to encourage customers to use digital banking rather than branches; ordering and activation of SIMs occurs on digital platforms. Other self-service options include SIM Swap, Block your SIM and activation of international roaming calls through Online Banking.
Customers will also have the benefit of qualifying to earn up to 40% back in eBucks on any FNB Connect mobile offering from 1 July this year.
“The banking landscape has evolved tremendously and with the help of technology we are able to better enrich the customer experience. We believe that this valuable service will assist customers with the opportunity to do their banking and mobile services from one platform. This is yet another innovation aimed at offering our customers the benefit of integrated and seamless mobile services which interoperates across existing platforms,” says Ramlakan.