FNB’s digital strategy aims to disrupt industries

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

FNB’s virtual ISP will be boosting its free data packages to 5GB for qualifying banking customers from May 8, 2012 – a move that is seen by some as gimmicky and deflective of the bank’s core services.

However, speaking in an interview with Moneyweb’s Alec Hogg, FNB CEO, Michael Jordaan explained that all of FNB’s added value service offerings form part of the many channels the bank uses to give back to its clients – and perhaps disrupt a few industries along the way.

FNB Connect’s free data packages are available only to qualifying FNB customers. Although FNB owns a telecom license, it only acts as a virtual Internet service provider (ISP) that deals directly with its own client base.

“[Being an independant teleco is] not our core skill, our core skill is still banking and financial services, and what we want to do is just provide a reward to our customers,” said Jordaan.

“We think that there’s an opportunity to reward customers more through rewards programmes like eBucks or fuel rewards, and in some cases to disrupt other industries.”

“In our case, we thought the telco industry is one where we can bring significant free benefits to our customers and, likewise, it is with this iPad and tablet revolution.”

When FNB initially started selling Apple’s iPad 2, the bank was delivering close to 20,000 units a month, according to Jordaan. Furthermore, the FNB banking app is seeing upwards of 800 downloads a day, a figure which Jordaan believes will only increase with time.

Jordaan insisted that, just as is the case with FNB Connect, the idea behind the iPad sales wasn’t to become a hardware distributor or detract from core banking, but to further assist and push banking technology forward in South Africa.

“The reason why we got into these devices is exactly because we have this smart app that can be downloaded on smartphones and on tablets and we’re very keen to see faster adoption of that in South Africa.”

“It’s one of the big things that is changing lives in technology and if we can be the one bringing it to South Africans and make their lives a little bit better, and in doing so make the banking experience better, why not?”

Jordaan would not comment on the feeling of FNB playing in a “gimmicky area”, but felt strongly that competing banks would soon follow FNB’s lead in the technology field, stating that “In fact, I’m quite surprised that that hasn’t happened already.”

“I’m sure that in the next couple of months you’ll see our competitors doing very, very similar things to what we’ve rolled out in 2011,” he concluded.