One of South Africa’s leading domestic banks, the First National Bank (FNB) has announced the launch of its own mobile virtual network, offering customers FNB branded SIM cards for their feature and smartphones. The move is unique for a traditional bank but according to FNB it already has two million customers for its various mobile-related products, which include pre-paid airtime top-ups, handsets, and ADSL and 3G data rewards.
The new service which is set to go live in the near future will give customers a single account from which to manage their financial and mobile phone services. According to TechCentral (a South African technology news site), the network has been many years in the works and will run on South African mobile network operator (MNO) Cell C’s network but will be fully integrated with FNB’s core banking system and has its own billing and support platforms.
Commenting on the announcement, Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO of FNB Connect said,
“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.”
Around the world mobile network operators are increasingly getting into financial services but banks generally do not become MNOs. This makes the FNB announcement truly unique. While it appears that the new mobile plans from FNB are not mobile payment focused, by having greater control over the mobile banking and payment ecosystem, the bank could eventually launch new services and take advantage of the additional touch points with their customers.
Overview by Tristan Hugo-Webb, associate director, Global Payments Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group
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