June 04, 2015

After months of speculation, FNB has finally unveiled their soon-to-be-released mobile offering, called FNB Connect.

Full details of the offering can be found on MoneyWeb, TechCentral, and myBroadband.

This is the second Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) to be introduced of late, with me&you mobile having launched just a few weeks ago. Even though both MVNO’s currently piggyback on the Cell C network, FNB has made it clear that they would be open to using other networks as well.

Some highlights of the FNB Connect offering:

  • This offering is only available to FNB Customers and will be integrated into FNB’s eBucks rewards programme.
  • FNB Connect will launch with a full online self-service portal which is part of the FNB online banking experience.
  • Customers will have to purchase/finance a handset separately from the contract. This can be done through FNB Connect, or through any other retail channel.
  • FNB is offering contract, prepaid, top-up, as well as month-to-month ‘Flexi’ contracts. Both voice and data contracts are available.
  • Customers who use FNB’s banking app will also be able to make free internet-based calls to other app users (as is currently available to users of the FNB app), and really affordable calls to people who are not using the app.

So what do we think?

  • Cell C have spent a lot of money upgrading their infrastructure, but will their network be able to handle the influx of new customers? It’s also a pity about Cell C’s lack of 4G at the moment (although this will reportedly be rolled out at the end if this year)
  • We’re happy to see another mobile player begin to decouple the handset from the contract. There is no reason for the two factors to be linked, and the separation of the handset from the contract will empower consumers to choose the best contracts based on their usage (rather than based on the handset they’re looking for)
  • We always welcome innovation in the mobile space and FNB are innovating in a big way with their online self-service platform, integration of VOIP calling from app, integration with rewards programmes, and the fact that customers don’t need to RICA their SIM cards (as they have already been FICA’d by the bank). It’s also great to see further competition in the cellular industry which is useful in keeping other operators on their toes and in reducing prices across the board.
  • This seems to be a great option for families and small businesses to easily monitor multiple cell phone accounts from one central website.
  • FNB Connect’s rates are fairly competitive when it comes to voice calls, data rates however are pretty in-line with the rest of the market.
  • The shift of a bank now becoming a cellular operator comes with many potential benefits and pitfalls. Unfortunately mobile users often have a love/hate (or perhaps hate/hate) relationship with their cellular service providers. If FNB Connect customers have similar experiences, it is sure to taint their view of their bank. However, another aspects of this is that we often see the reluctance that customers have to move to other cellular networks (often due to the perceived complexity and hassle involved) and once customers have integrated their banking and mobile services, we could imagine that they would be even less willing to switch networks.

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