Absa first SA bank to launch Apple Watch app

South African banking giant Absa has officially announced the launch of its Apple Watch app.

The bank, a subsidiary of the Barclays Africa group, is the first in the country to launch something aimed specifically at Apple Watch owners.

The app comes with the tagline “The Smallest Thing in Banking” and is a clear sign that the bank is determined not to get left behind when it comes to technological offerings.

The bank was, after all, the last of South Africa’s big banks to launch a mobile banking app, nearly two years after FNB’s 2011 launch.

At this stage, it’s unclear exactly what the Apple Watch app will allow you to do, given that Absa has only released a video showing it in sketch form.

Given the capabilities of the Apple Watch though, it’s a fairly safe bet that you’ll be able to receive notifications from it and check your account balances at the very least.

Update: the app only allows users to check their balance and account limits on the go.

“We realised that our customers experience ‘instant moments’ or ‘mobile moments’, where they need to access key financial information in an instant. This release for the Apple Watch is part of our initiative to embrace this particular customer need,” says Evans Munyuki, Head of Digital, Retail & Business Banking, at Barclays Africa.

“The first widely accepted technological change in banking came in the form of online banking and mobile payments,” he adds. “Now we have introduced the capability to view your bank balance and limits from the app for the Apple Watch.”

While it may have launched first, Absa is not the only South African bank working on an Apple Watch app. In June, Standard Bank announced that it was working on its own app.

The key feature of its offering, the group said, is something called “Balance Peek”, which allows you to “quickly and unobtrusively check your balance.”

That seems more or less in line with what what most Apple Watch apps are capable of at this stage. The technology is still in its infancy though, so it would probably be a bit much to expect true wrist-top banking.

In order to use the app, you:

  • Must have an Absa Bank Account
  • Must have an iPhone
  • Must make the app available on iPhone
  • Sync the app to Apple Watch



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