The innovation driven by FNB’s mobile application as a tool for banking was a first in South Africa. For a country that is lagging behind its African counterparts where virtual money is concerned, this really proved to be an important step towards desensitising digital banking. Yet, the challenge of needing to be connected to the internet presented a hindrance to banking that also hadn’t yet been experienced as this also meant that accessing FNB's banking services for many required data bundles which are already a contentious issue in the country.. Noticing the frustration of their customers on social media, the bank seems to have come to a solution.

Since 1 July 2017 FNB's banking will be free of data charges to its customers for all network providers. Customers who choose to bank using their banking app will no longer need to expend their mobile data allowance. FNB has reached an agreement with all the major network providers in South Africa to zero-rate access to the bank’s mobile application.

This comes after the bank already offers the application free to download on a wide platform of devices to everyone, and not just their customers in an attempt to serve the unbanked population of South Africa. Most FNB branches have free WiFi to the public and encourage people to download the app to use its features.

“We believe access to data or airtime should not be a barrier to safe and convenient banking. The zero-rating of the app is in line with our broader strategy to migrate customers to digital and electronic channels where a number of transactions and services are already offered free of charge. We attribute the success of the app to continuous innovation and meeting more than the basic banking needs of our customers.”

Giuseppe Virgillito, FNB Digital Spokesperson

Ever since its introduction is 2011, FNB’s banking app has seen tremendous success, becoming the most downloaded application and being the most popular banking app among its customers according to SAcsi and Columinate’s 2015 SITEisfaction Index.

The app allows its users to use all its features including Secure Chat, make free calls to other app users, FNB Pay, Smart inContact, Report Fraud, FNB TV(which remains billed by the mobile networks), ATM and Branch locator, eBucks Partner locator, GeoPayments, eWallet and many others that gave the bank its innovator identity.
Hopefully, other service providers outside of banking will follow suit and we can finally remove the access barrier that hinders the take up of technology in South Africa.

What do you think, will other banks be inspired to innovate and take up the cost of access from their customers? Is this a marketing ploy or a legitimate response to the #DataMustFall movement? Share your thoughts in our comments section below. Thank you for visiting Base64!

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