FirstRand Bank Will Increase Its Market Share With Its Innovative Mobile Banking Apps & Twitter Activity

FNB-Mobile-FNBAppToday, FNB launched South Africa’s first smartphone and tablet banking application, the FNB app, with a key focus on customer experience.

For the time being, the application is only available on iPhoneAndroid and BlackBerry.

FNB at the Forefront of Innovation & Digital Engagement
Over the years, FNB demonstrated its commitment to being one of the most innovative companies in South Africa, and of course in the banking industry.

Just to list a few initiatives, I invite you to check:
* ‘eBucks‘ their successful reward programme and virtual currency (now on twitter at @eBucks),
* their ecommerce friendly website,
* their presence on facebook with the excellent FNB Premier Banking pagetargeting the mass affluent market, one of the 13 pages my team is tracking in South Africa as part of our Visible Banking Facebook Watchseries (900+ pages and apps in 70+ countries),
* FNB Premier Banking’s crowdsourcing experiment, ‘Idea Bounty‘, launched back in 2008,
* their activity on twitter with @RBjacobs, their account dedicated essentially to customer support and one of the 10 accounts my team is tracking in South Africa as part of our Visible Banking Twitter Watch series (over 1,500 accounts in 70+ countries).

FNB-CEOAnd last but not least the level of online visibility and activity from Michael Jordaan the CEO of the bank.

I invite you to follow Mike on twitter @MichaelJordaan.

Why So Much Buzz About The FNB App?
We all know how important the topics of mobile banking and mobile payments are in Africa with over 100 million of mobile users (35 million in South Africa alone). It is the most efficient way to reach out to rural Africa.

In the last few years, Africa has proved to be one of the most innovative areas of the world in regards to payments with the likes of the cellphone money service M-Pesa, highly popular in Tanzania and Kenya (but not so much in South Africa), or more recently the first commercial NFC service in Tanzania.

So far, the focus has been mainly on sms banking due to the low penetration of smartphones and mobile internet. So, you might wonder why a major bank like FNB would invest in a mobile application now? At a recent Gartner Symposium on Innovation held in Africa, Nick Jones predicted the penetration of smartphones in South Africa is likely to reach 80% by 2014. It all makes sense, don’t you think?

Please find below the product feature of the FNB App (from their iphone app page):
– Access your banking accounts (view account balances; detailed transaction history)
– Make payments to third parties
– Transfer funds between your accounts
– Other value added services, such as:
– Use Location Based Services to find FNB ATMs or Branches
– Make and receive calls (powered by FNB Connect), including FREE calls to FNB Call Centre’s
– View Forex Rates

Please note that it is not FNB’s first iPhone app. Back in May 2011, the bank launched ‘the Connect App‘ which allows their customers to Call, SMS, Facebook and MXit chat for FREE and let you apply for bank accounts and find branches or ATM’s using maps.

Fantastic Buzz on Twitter
Yesterday I spotted a couple of exciting tweets from @RBJacobs and @MichaelJordaan, including the one below.

The bank has done an excellent job leveraging twitter to create some buzz and generate a lot of conversations on the app. They are using two main hashtags #FNBApp and #switchtoFNB aiming to drive massive bank switches thanks to the positive feedback and online recommmendations.

Successful Launch: Onsite and Online
FNB-Mobile-FNBApp-TwitterThis morning, FNB organized a successful launch event with South African bloggers and other online influencers. I followed the launch on twitter via the hashtag #FNBApp which quickly became a trending topic in South Africa on the 200 million user microblogging service.

FNB-Mobile-TwitterBuzzThe conversation quickly included over 500 tweets. A special kudos to this morning’s Top 10 most active tweeps: @RBjacobs, @quintinza, @Ziletm, @khadijapatel, @mist_r, @turkish_nabs, @Brettski, @rcgmobi, @Ambio, TheeAndre.

Great Twitter Coverage From @quintinza
There is no point in reinventing the wheel when one of the participants of the launch event, Quintin van Rooyen, did such a great job covering it.

Please find below some of Quintin’s best tweets.

* FNB is very excited about the smartphone app because of the speed of adoption.
* works on 3G and Wifi, can make payments, can be linked to your account with ease. Check forex, find branches and ATM’s
* allows you to make free calls to any FNB call center with FNBconnect.
* really awesome how easy making payments are.
* coming soon: Augmented Reality, eBucks, advanced payments via Google, NFC and Bump payments. cancelling stolen cards and notifications of spend limits
* Future features: augmented reality possibilities like virtual branch tours mentioned as possible future capabilities.
* not working for business accounts yet, not being ruled out as a possibility, works if you have a consumer banking platform.
* expected timeframe for keypad devices? No commitments yet. Currently only touch screen devices supported.
* currently cannot add beneficiaries on the app, in the future the capability will be included.

Initial Feedback from Twitter
I’ve enjoyed following the enthusiastic conversations this morning on twitter.

Loving that a tweep was so excited that he published a screenshot of his 1st payment including his account number. 🙂 But do not worry, the picture is offline.

@thabitha Is that ur acc no. Aki? *starts hacking☺* RT @AkiAnastasiou: Just made my first payment using the #FNBApp to

Please find below some of the most interesting tweets as of 1:30pm GMT.

Customer Acquisition
@Matsied Think I’ll be moving to fnb…#FNBApp
* @rossiza #fnbapp is just another reason everyone should be banking with FNB. Seriously cool.
@PietSous You can argue all you want but all other banks in SA are dead in the water compared to #FNB#FNBApp is awesome so far.
@VinylDestZA Duly impressed with #FNB’s latest iPhone/Android banking app. If you bank with them, get the app! If you dont, why the hell not??
* @RobsSilverstone: Seriously considering moving to #FNB banking. Over Absa
* @NealeForrest: Wow quite excited about the #FNB. This will be a game changer. Even my wife wants to move to fnb now.
@BrionyFickling @MichaelJordaan And that’s why I switched to FNB! Great job. #FNBApp

@naeem_coza @Rbjacobs suggestion, how about putting a qr code on the download page, saves user from searching market place for app.
* @taneshn @Rbjacobs I presume there’s a #FNBapp developed specifically for the iPad on the cards. If not, please add it to the wishlist.
@lesegokotane oh my word. #FNBApp. you answered my desires. love love love. but at 18MB it better save to my SD card. #android

Issues or complaints
@maxui @AkiAnastasiou @shapshak #FNBApp That i s all well and good but how am I protected if my phone is stolen?
@idashKB @Rbjacobs #FNBapp doesn’t want to download on my BB
@davegreenway @Rbjacobs Non Touchscreen BB App????? #FNBApp
@Lion_Moose @Rbjacobs dude i am so bummed that i can’t get the#fnbapp BB and all still cant get it.
@Brettski Keypad support for the #FNBApp is doubtful… #FNB says for those users there’s always Mobi and USSD… Pity… Implies that smart=touch phone…
LeoMckay Largest smartphone manufacturer for last. Hmm. RT @Rbjacobs#FNBApp Working on a symbian release .. unfortunately no release date yet
@arigork Seems the #FNBApp isn’t compatible with the Blackberry 9700 or 9780?
* @nduplessis #FNB wants to waste your time by letting you watch a 7 second intro movie every time and that is on an iPhone4. #FNBApp

RobinHood_1 @nafisa1 OMW da new #FNBApp is totally awesome.Slick interface,very user friendly & simple 2 use. #FNB is like the #Apple of banks,brilliant.
Raielki The #FNBApp is a winner! Easy. Functional. Safe. The best. (If you’re an FNB-client with a smartphone, download it NOW!)
SerajGool Wow!!! The FNB app for iPhone is awesome!!! A job definitely well done #FNB #FNBApp
@cgstander @Rbjacobs wow!! What an awesome iPhone #FNBApp !! Real impressed. Thanx #FNB 🙂
@webejame FNB android app is amazing! Good jobn nice and compact, fast and secure! @Rbjacobs #FNBapp
@naeem_coza installed and got it working in less then 2 minutes. FNB android app is fantastic. Nice one #FNBapp
@50jtaylor I am proud of FNB: love the new #FNBapp – download, setup and transfer quick and easy – already done – fantastic – well done.
@MzansiGirl can’t believe how quick the #FNBapp is. Much faster and simpler than internet banking.
* @shapshak: Don’t tell @MichaelJordaan I’ve already installed the#FNBapp & paid someone. Slick, quick interface. Very impressive.
@Nico_Naidoo I am quite taken aback – in a good way – at the big interest in the #FNBApp! Excitement over a bank…now that’s worth a chirp or tweet…
@DChetty Been playing with the #FNBApp. Only response is Yoh! It’s SERIOUSLY shizzy. :))
@GrahamZA To be honest I’m more excited about the #FNBapp and @GooglePlusOne app than OS X Lion….

FNB-Mobile-PressureCompetitors@MohamedKarolia The other SA banks better act quick if they are going to catch up with #FNB. The #FNBApp. Has just made banking a lot more easier !
@SbuDaBuddist #FNBapp looks great #Nedbank where you at?
@tehPaperCut Haaa! RT @hiltontarrant: So Absa’s launched a rival to the#FNBApp today. Except all it lets you do is *open* an account!? Seriously!?
@geordinhl Would be awesome for @StandardBankGrp to get a Blackberry App! This #FNBApp sounds pretty good.
@BurningPoint @standardbankgrp I’m hearing really good things about the FNB app. Do you have anything planned for us?

My Take

So yes I believe FirstRand has indeed a good shot at increasing its market share on the back of this successful launch. The question is how significantly?

This will depend on their ability to sustain the online conversations with their advocates and detractors, to demonstrate they are taking their input into account, to leverage this online activity and those contributions and incorporate them into their more traditional marketing campaigns (TV, radio, press). And of course, I’m eager to see how fast and how big will be the response from the other main South African banks!
Stay tuned on Visible Banking.

FNB-Mobile-1stAppleStoreAs you’d expect, I loved the way the bank leveraged twitter (onsite and online). Do I really need to mention all the key benefits of this approach? From creating some instant buzz (a bit like NAB’s award winning ‘the Break Up’ campaign), gathering immediate feedback, fixing bugs, identifying key suggestions and ideas for the second release…

By the way at 1:40pm GMT, just a few hours after launch, the FNB App was already the #1 free app in the South African apple store.
Congratulations to Mike and his team. 😀

And this is just the beginning: surely most of the participants this morning in the room will produce a blog post within the next few days, so will my fellow bloggers living outside South Africa but passionate about social media and digital engagement in banking.

I love seeing Michael retweeting some of the most passionate messages from customers and prospects. It is always great to see a Senior Executive embracing social media to connect with its market. Luckily Michael is not alone. I invite you to check my list of Banking and Insurance Senior Executives on Twitter.

More and more financial institutions are aiming to be innovative in the mobile banking space: last week, CBA in Australia announced its commitment to mobile apps and NFC payments, earlier this year Webank launched ‘the Wepad project‘ a crowdsourcing experiment to design its iPad app, Danske Bank launched ‘Idebank‘ and asked its customers on facebook to share their suggestions to enhance their mobile banking application…

But in my opinion the most compelling questions of all are to the South Africans: how important for you is innovation? Would FNB’s leading edge mobile banking application be enough to make you leave your bank and switch to them?

The FNB App Video
I invite you to watch the video posted by the FNB team this morning.

Working Together
We at Visible Banking would be delighted to help you and your team better UNDERSTAND and LEVERAGE social media in a strategic yet pragmatic way.
So please don’t hesitate to call me, send me an email or DM me (@Visible_Banking) to book a meeting and talk about twitterfacebookcrowdsourcingcustomer reviews, social media & social commerce in banking, financial services and insurance.

What do you think?

Written by Christophe Langlois

Based in London for almost a decade, Christophe is an entertaining fintech marketing keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of digital marketing, innovation and B2B social media.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is advising a number of fintech startups on marketing and growth hacking and he is the Chief Marketing Officer of The Fintech Power 50, an exclusive annual programme helping fintech scale-ups to accelerate their growth globally.

Christophe's views on are his own.

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