FNB launches Geopay for smartphones

2012-05-11 14:22
Cape Town - First National Bank launched its location-based payments platform on Friday, allowing customers with the app on their smartphone to make direct payments.

The bank launched its FNB app in 2011 and has seen tremendous growth in the use of the application across multiple mobile platforms.

In the first months of the launch of the banking app, there were 10 000 active clients, and the geo payments application is expected to cement the bank's lead in app development.

"The banking app is actually going from strength to strength - today we've got just over 160 000 active clients. The banking app has done close to R4bn in transactional value so it shows that people are not only downloading the app, but they're using it quite extensively as well," Farren Roper, head of products and markets at FNB Connect, told News24.

Geopay uses location through either cellphone towers or Wi-Fi networks to ensure that people are in the same location and once a password is entered, the payment is processed.

Strong growth

Roper said that the platform took four months of work and expected that there would be strong growth across the bank's apps.

"We're looking at about a quarter of a million active users before the end of the year, so in terms of channel coverage, we very pleased with that: The market is ready for apps in banking."

FNB has built several channels for customers to access bank accounts, from cellphone banking, to the banking apps, but Roper rejected suggestions that SA was not ready for banking apps.

"Our strategy at FNB is to have a multi-channel strategy: Whichever channel the client prefers to use, be that USSD [unstructured supplementary service data], or traditional cellphone banking, or app banking. I must say though that our view is that the market is at a state of readiness," he said.

Smartphone adoption is growing in SA and most major manufactures have launched updates to their premium devices in the last six months.

Financial institutions have not responded to the growth of smartphones with the same speed and FNB remains the only bank that has a banking app.

Most South African banks offer online banking for computer access and cellphone banking through USSD for lower income groups that may not have access to a computer.


Third party provider 22seven has even launched a financial management service and plans to roll out a mobile app for bank customers.

"In South Africa, there is an estimated eight million smartphones in circulation - that's excluding tablets - and we're looking at about 80% penetration in the next two years.

"As smartphone penetration grows, so your app penetration grows as well," Roper said.

Globally there have been about 25 billion downloads of Apple apps, and 11 billion Android apps.

News24 has about 360 000 app users, with about 49% on the BlackBerry platform, 9% on Android, 24% on iPhone, 15% on iPad and the remainder on Windows.

FNB said that as South African customers become more tech-savvy, channels need to be in place to service clients who demand it.

"We think that our customers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and the market in the Western Cape is the highest in terms of usage of the FNB platform," said Roper.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    fnb  |  banks  |  mobile

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