Standard Bank has finally confirmed one of the telecommunications industry’s worst-kept secrets: it will launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), becoming the second major bank in South Africa to do so. Original Link
While several significant changes to First National Bank’s popular eBucks rewards programme kick in this month, the tightening up of earn rules across all accounts means that rewards are now capped at far stricter levels.
Certain behaviour (such as holding products or performing certain transactions via specific channels) earn customers points which then determine which reward level they are on for the following month. eBucks are then earned on certain types of spending, depending on reward level. For example, a Premier customer on reward level five will earn 15% back in eBucks on their spend at Checkers/Shoprite, while one on reward level three will only earn 5%.
Regardless of their reward level, however, monthly earning is capped across all categories. It’s these limits that FNB has tightened substantially from July. For Premier (previously Platinum) customers, this means a reduction in potential eBucks earned of anywhere from 33% to 80%. For Private Clients account holders, the drop is between 16% and 78%.
The steepest reduction is for in-store shopping at grocery partner Checkers/Shoprite. Until June, Premier customers could earn eBucks on their first R10 000 of spend at Checkers/Shoprite stores in a month (or 20% of their total qualifying monthly spend). Realistically, hitting that R10 000 base was difficult, especially since the 20% of total qualifying spend rule was also in place (you’d need to spend R50 000/month on your cards to hit the limit).
The new cap is 80% lower, at just R2 000/month (while the 20% of spend rule remains), which translates to maximum earnings of eB3 000. This means that a customer will only earn the higher percentage of eBucks (up to 15%) at this partner on effectively a large monthly shop from July. Thereafter, any spend at Checkers/Shoprite will fall into the in-store shopping category, at an earn rate of just 2% on a credit card (at reward level five) and 0.25% on a cheque card (regardless of level). On in-store shopping, the limit has been halved to R10 000/month, whereafter customers will earn a flat rate of 0.5% back in eBucks.
The amount of eBucks customers earn on each litre of fuel has increased from July because of how rewards are calculated. Instead of a percentage earned on total fuel spend, customers will earn up to R4/l back at Engen fuel stations only. This means a 45l tank-fill will earn eb1 800 (R180) at reward level five, from around eB1 065 (R106) currently. Here, the monthly cap has dropped from R4 500 for fuel and Uber trips to just R2 000 for fuel at Engen (or 20% of total spend). At current prices, customers will only earn eBucks on three (45l) tanks of fuel a month: a maximum of eB5 000 (despite the petrol price).
The old and new limits for Premier and Private Clients accounts are compared below:
Let’s consider a hypothetical level-five Premier customer who does R15 000 of in-store shopping (via credit card), R3 000 of online shopping (also credit card), R2 500 spend at Checkers, about R4 000 fuel spend a month (180l), and has R500 of Uber bills. With the new limits (providing they don’t hit any 20% of total spend caps), they’ll earn just over 20% fewer eBucks than before at the same levels of spend. This is significant. These lower limits mean a far lower amount of potential payouts that the bank will have to make via eBucks.
Those households that shift the majority of their spend through a single account at the highest reward level to get the maximum amount of rewards — an old “trick” to max out reward potential — are surely unhappy. And customers (like this author) who are on an atypical account type (such as Gold, but should be on Premier, or Premier, but should be on Private Clients) will also be affected by this change as their spend will generally easily hit the reward caps.
This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission
First National Bank has squeaked past Capitec to be named South Africa’s best digital bank, according to a new, independent study by Columinate.
The insights agency on Monday released its seventh annual “Siteisfaction” report, which named FNB as the overall winner, reclaiming top spot as the best digital bank by owning both the best mobile banking and best Internet banking categories.
However, FNB’s rise in satisfaction levels was not as prominent as Capitec’s decline in satisfaction levels, Columinate said.
“This declining three-year trend may cost Capitec’s its reputation as a disruptor and is likely due to Capitec’s customers punishing the bank for the platform’s frequent unavailability,” the company said in a statement.
“Despite Capitec losing its footing, it still outperformed Nedbank, Standard Bank and Absa by a large margin. This is a critical lesson for new entrants such as Tyme, Bank Zero and Discovery to ensure they create a stable infrastructure, with little to no breaks in service or platform interruptions.”
Columinate’s Siteisfaction survey was launched in 2012 and is an annual measure of customer satisfaction with digital banking services in South Africa. The company rates each banking institution with a Siteisfaction score out of a possible 100. To date, the SITEisfaction survey has engaged more than 13 000 Internet and digital banking users, focusing specifically on the trends that shape the digital banking landscape.
Customers’ satisfaction with their primary banks’ total banking experience have steadily and significantly been improving over the course of the last seven years. However, the Siteisfaction score with overall Internet banking solutions has not enjoyed a similar improvement and continues to lag behind with a “meagre” 10-point rise from 54 in 2012 to 64 in 2018.
FNB claimed the top honours in the Internet banking category, even though its customers scored it slightly lower this year (75 in 2018, down from 78 in 2017). “The win can largely be attributed to the consistent good experience across all FNB’s digital channels but is also partially due to Capitec’s sporadic platform inaccessibility.”
Capitec marked a greater decline in Internet banking satisfaction due to this intermittent unavailability, dropping from 78 in 2017 to 70 in 2018. Bronze medallist Nedbank (51 in 2017 vs 60 in 2018), Standard Bank (51 in 2017 vs 55 in 2018) and Absa (44 in 2017 vs 48 in 2018) all showed improvement, with Nedbank and Absa receiving their highest scores in the category to date. Absa has also shown the greatest improvement with its customers’ satisfaction levels consistently growing over the course of the last three years.
“Standard Bank still has a way to go to return to its former glory of 66 back in 2015, when it was propelled to second place after launching its new Internet banking site, now three years old,” Columinate said. “Standard Bank is still toggling between the two platforms, which may further explain its unchanging score.”
First National Bank said on Wednesday that it is introducing new functionality into its smartphone banking app that will allow consumers to sign up for a bank account by taking a “selfie” in an entirely paperless process.
Users simply take a photo of themselves, and this then uploaded and “biometrically verified” with the department of home affairs in a secure way, the bank said at a press conference in Sandton.
Key to the innovation, which works for opening both business and personal accounts, is the bank’s partnership with home affairs, said CEO Jacques Celliers. The new functionality is available immediately.
The bank will leverage the “rich data” it already has about South Africans, said FNB Retail CEO Raj Makanjee. He said the new feature will do away with the hassle of queues and paperwork. “All you need is the app and an e-mail address.”
The service is available to South African consumers who have an ID document. It will use other technology features, such as geolocation to verify the applicant’s home address.
At the same time, FNB announced a number of new features to be launched in its smartphone app in 2018. These include the ability to pay a merchant by scanning a QR code, similar to the way people use apps such as SnapScan and Zapper.
Also, in the coming months the bank will introduce contactless payments using smartwatches, including those from Garmin and Fitbit.
“You will be able to tap your wearable and pay for your coffee, or whatever. It will be live in the next month or two,” said Makanjee.
South Africans are apparently so elated at the exit of Jacob Zuma as president that their confidence as consumers has made an unprecedented jump to an all-time high.
The 34-point move in First National Bank’s index of consumers’ sentiment, to 26 in the first quarter, has outdone previous moments of satisfaction in recent history — such as the end of apartheid and the country’s 1995 win at the Rugby World Cup. Confidence specifically among black consumers is near the record reached after the first multiracial elections in 1994.
Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascent to power since December boosted business and investor sentiment and the rand after Zuma’s nine years in office eroded trust and dented the economy. The new president has pledged to clamp down on corruption and appointed a new cabinet, removing some ministers who were seen as compromised.
While the improvement in consumer sentiment is largely due to the change in the country’s leadership, the announcement of free education for poor students late last year and the pushing back of the day when Cape Town is projected to run out of water also boosted confidence, Mamello Matikinca, chief economist at FNB, told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The euphoria of the political change has in some cases started to make way for demands of tangible improvements in the economy. Business confidence and the purchasing managers’ index dipped last month after it surged at the start of the year.
Ramaphosa’s “new dawn has clearly created optimism among consumers and the business community”, Matikinca said. “There is a risk that the consumer confidence index overshot in the first quarter on the back of positive sentiment, so this implies that there could be a negative correction in the second quarter.” — Reported by Odwa Mjo, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP
First National Bank is taking the fight for entry-level banking consumers to Capitec, with the launch of its new zero-monthly-fee transactional bank account aimed at the unbanked and underbanked.
eWallet eXtra, due by June, is a combination of FNB’s existing eWallet remittance service and pay-as-you-use transactional accounts. It is set to be the only transactional bank account that carries no monthly fee, with consumers expected to pay per transaction.
At R4.50/month, Old Mutual’s Money Account is the cheapest bank account in the country, followed by Capitec’s R5.80 Global One Account. Capitec is widely considered the leader in the entry-level bank account market and was expected to grow its active client base, which includes primary and non-primary account holders, to over 10m in March.
Per FNB’s estimates, the size of the unbanked and underbanked market, which it aims to serve, stands at over 11m. A 2016 Finscope study on financial inclusion found that 4.3m adults are entirely excluded from the financial system, with only 58% of adults (excluding social grants cardholders) classified as banked.
Although FNB is the first South African bank to offer an account that carries no monthly fee, its chief executive, Jacques Celliers, insists the bank is not a “one-dimensional” price player.
“Price is something that you have to get right. But we’re not a price play; we’re a value bank. We look after relationships and we want to sell you lots of things. Are there alternatives that have different angles? Absolutely. Maybe someone beats us here and someone beats us there. But we’ve got a great space in the country, our brand is doing well, our customer base is happy… It’s about finding the right balance,” he said when Moneyweb asked if he saw the new offering as a potential “Capitec killer”.
Celliers said the bank was not looking to sell credit to eWallet eXtra account holders, whose monthly income could fall between R0 and R7 000, and will rather cross-sell value-added products such as airtime and insurance.
‘Massive business case’
“Business cases for transactional banking work very well if you can on-sell some products to the customer. The problem with the pure wallet is that we haven’t been able to do much with that relationship because the receiver of the wallet doesn’t really have a customer relationship with us. If we can swing that eWallet relationship into a little banking relationship and on-sell, there is a massive business case.”
Pieter Woodhatch, chief executive of FNB Easy, under which the eWallet, pay-as-you-use and basic bundle accounts fall, said the bank has about five million active eWallet users a month, of which 1.9m don’t have an FNB account.
The bank also intends to grow its client base through the eWallet eXtra account and work toward migrating account holders across its transactional bank account continuum as their needs change. Woodhatch said FNB migrates around 20 000 bundle account holders up its chain of accounts per month.
The new account is set to be entirely mobile and paperless in nature, which will keep the bank’s client acquisition costs low. Accounts are expected to be opened in under three minutes based only on the full name and ID number of potential accountholders, which will be verified using the bank’s link to the department of home affairs’ database. The spend limits of R3 000/day and R24 000/month ensure the bank meets Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica) and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements relevant to the market, added Gugu Zikhali, head of FNB’s mass market segment.
“We don’t mind if hundreds of thousands of people open accounts if it can be done in a platform like this, and then see who activates it or not. The efficiency in the design is the monster celebration because it allows us to scale with no origination costs. At the top end of the market, it takes us a hell of a lot of money and investment to originate a client and get someone to come across from another bank,” Celliers said.
He would not disclose how much the bank has spent on developing the new offering, saying that it forms part of a decade of investment into wallet-based activities and capabilities at the bottom-end of the market and that its execution leverages off of FNB’s well-established ecosystem and digital capabilities.
This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission
First National Bank is having another go at attracting the unbanked and underbanked in South Africa, announcing on Wednesday the imminent launch of a mobile bank account that allows consumers to use either a feature phone or smartphone to open a bank account without ever walking into a branch.
Called eWallet eXtra, the mobile wallet has no monthly fees and consumers are not required to submit any paperwork — only their name and ID number on their phone. The product will be launched by June. Only people 16 and over will be able to use it.
“If you are above the age of 16 and own a cellphone, you’ll be able to get a mobile bank account with a unique account number in less than three minutes, and you don’t need a bank card to transact,” said Gugu Zikhali, FNB’s head of transaction products for the mass market, in a statement.
eWallet eXtra can be used to send or receive deposits from individuals and other banks, store funds for an unlimited period, pay accounts and buy prepaid products, including cellular airtime and electricity.
Users can also withdraw money at any FNB ATM or at tills at participating Spar stores, which also allow for over-the-counter purchases.
The daily spend limit is R3 000, or R24 000/month.
Those who use an FNB Connect Sim will be able to access eWallet eXtra for free as they do not need airtime. Security is in the form of a Pin code. “To safeguard customers, eWallet eXtra will not carry debit order functionality,” the bank said.
It said the product will address gaps it has identified in its analysis of entry-level bank accounts and its eWallet remittance service.
Pieter Woodhatch, CEO of FNB Easy, said more than a million users have been using its eWallet product as a bank account despite the fact that the solution was designed as a remittance service. He said the size of the addressable market is at least 11m. — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media
First National Bank’s deliberate move to aggressively shift transaction to its mobile app from other digital (and physical) channels is paying off handsomely.
If recent trends are sustained — and there’s no indication that they won’t be — transaction volumes on its mobile app will overtake those on Internet banking by the end of its financial year in June 2018.
Year-on-year growth rates for volumes on its app have ranged between 60% and 80%, while those for Internet banking have been up between 4% and 15% until the 1% decline in the most recent period.
In the six months to December 2017, nearly 74m transactions were done via the app, versus 104m on Internet banking (these figures exclude the 23m transactions done via USSD services on mobile).
The bank has been using the carrot-and-stick approach via its eBucks rewards programme to drive this behaviour change. Several years ago, reward points were earned if customers did all of their electronic payments and transactions via the app in a month. In July 2016, the bank introduced a qualifying requirement where (under 60) Premier customers had to log into the FNB app at least once a month in order to earn rewards.
Johan Moolman, CEO of eBucks Rewards at FNB, told Moneyweb last year that the results from this change proved the model: the programme drives behavioural change. “App linkages (to online banking profiles) doubled from month one,” he pointed out. “And that trend has continued.”
The acceleration in year-on-year transaction volume growth in December 2016 — to 80% — further illustrates how successful the bank has been in driving behaviour change.
In terms of active app users, rivals remain far behind. Absa says it had 653 000 active users on its mobile app as at December 2017, while Standard Bank reported 848 000 active users as at end-June 2017 (it will provide an update to December on Thursday). Nedbank says it had 891 000 active retail clients across all digital channels as at December 2017.
Contrast this with FNB, which reported 875 000 active banking app users as far back as June 2014. Today, it has over two million active users, with R27bn in transactions being processed per month (as at October).
Towards the end of last year, FNB CEO Jacques Celliers said that 850 000 customers have used the NAVHome feature on the app (for valuation reports and home loan applications), while 210 000 have used the NAVCar feature for valuations and licence renewals, among others.
Against this migration to digital and especially mobile channels, which the bank has previously described as “faster than expected”, revenues have come under pressure. In 2016 it said this would require a “recalibration” of its branch network.
It’s tackled this on multiple fronts: reducing staff costs (and headcount), moving to a modular approach when fitting out branches, as well as trimming its physical space and footprint. Along with this, it is investing in electronic channels as well as in-branch digital capabilities to take out further costs.
In the six months to December 2017, it has managed to keep overall branch costs flat. The physical footprint of branches is down 7% year on year. In branches, it is pushing to enable customers on its digital channels: online activations via this channel are up 42% year on year, while mobile app activations have more than doubled. Previously, it said the modular approach to fitting out branches saw a 29% reduction in these costs.
In the long term, it aims to keep average cost increases in terms of branch staff to 3%/year, and those related to its long-term leases to just 1%/year. It will continue “rationalising” its property portfolio and operational processes.
Hilton Tarrant works at immedia
This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission
Standard Bank is building a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), according to well-placed industry sources. The bank has hired former Virgin Mobile South Africa CEO Steve Bailey to its executive team.
Standard Bank is also aggressively hiring telecommunications skills, TechCentral has learnt.
If it goes ahead with the MVNO, Standard Bank will be the second big retail bank in South Africa to launch a virtual operator following the introduction of FNB Connect in 2015. It will, however, mark an about-turn from its previous views about launching an MVNO.
A bank spokesman said it is not able to comment. Bailey, whose LinkedIn profile shows he joined Standard Bank late last year, also said he could not comment.
MVNOs piggyback on existing networks’ infrastructure, but typically provide their own backend billing and customer support. FNB uses Cell C’s network. Other MVNOs include Virgin Mobile and Mr Price Mobile.
Before joining Standard Bank, Bailey was CEO of MVN-X, a virtual mobile “enablement” company that launched MVNOs such as Mr Price Mobile, X Mobile, Smart Mobile and Me&You Mobile. He was CEO of Virgin Mobile South Africa between 2008 and 2012 and before that was chief customer operations officer at Cell C.
While it’s not known who Standard Bank might be working with, market talk is that it may have partnered with Vodacom, though this could not be verified. A Vodacom spokesman said the company won’t comment on speculation. To date, only Cell C has worked with MVNO partners. The company offers a platform on top of which MVNOs are able to provide services.
In 2016, former MTN CEO Phuthuma Nhleko said that a large financial services institution would launch an MVNO on MTN South Africa’s network. That never transpired.
In an interview with TechCentral later that same year, Standard Bank’s chief executive for personal and business banking, Peter Schlebusch, said that although the bank had looked at the MVNO model “extensively” it had decided against it.
“There are a lot of competent players in the telecoms space already,” Schlebusch said at the time. “FNB, clearly, has taken a different view, and they have their own reasons.”
He said the bank wanted to focus on delivering a “fantastic customer experience in banking and financial services”, rather than being side-tracked by a venture into telecoms.
To launch an MVNO, Standard Bank would have to commit to high fixed costs upfront. The problem, Schlebusch said, was that “you’re not sure how many customers are going to come across to your platform”. And the market “can be quite saturated at the top”.
It now appears to have changed its thinking on a venture in the telecoms market.
Bank Zero appears set to accelerate the evolution of the South African banking industry by offering a fresh take on banking and highly competitive fees.
The bank — the brainchild of tech entrepreneurs and banking innovators Michael Jordaan and Yatin Narsai — has received a provisional licence from the South African Reserve Bank. It is due to launch a smartphone app, through which transactional and savings accounts can be opened and managed, in the fourth quarter.
The digital-only play, built using free open-source technology, is expected to lower banking fees thanks — in part — due to a lack of legacy systems and absence of traditional bricks and mortar branches, which will enable it to keep costs down.
“We certainly hope to come up with a very competitive structure. We do realise that we have certain disadvantages — we won’t have branches and we won’t have lending products — so we’re going to have to make an impact in the areas where we’ll play, being deposits and fee structures.
“It’s a bit too early to disclose exactly what we’re going to do because that would give competitors an advantage but we really hope to delight you and other potential South African customers when we launch toward the end of this year,” said Jordaan, co-founder and chairman of Bank Zero, when asked whether his offering would be cheaper than that of Capitec. Of the listed banks, Capitec’s offering, which includes a base fee, pay-as-you-transact charges and interest on positive account balances, is considered the most competitive.
In an attempt to nurture a savings culture, the bank is to offer attractive interest rates on deposits and has chosen upfront not to engage in lending.
Its target market includes individuals and businesses, which it feels are under-served by the traditional banks.
In a statement, Jordaan said the bank’s offerings would be in line with modern day realities, where the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram represent a new normal. “Why shouldn’t banks also innovate in this era of wider connectedness whilst still ensuring a robust banking value proposition? Bank Zero is addressing these realities, while employing cutting-edge technologies, minimising typical admin-intensive processes and delivering state-of-the-art security.”
Bank Zero is to operate under a mutual licence, like that of Finbond, GBS and VBS. This will allow the bank to create financial communities and give customers the opportunity to become shareholders in the bank. Bank Zero will, after breaking even, be able to issue shares along with voting rights to deposit holders.
Jordaan would not disclose the value of the capital invested in Bank Zero nor its breakeven point, saying only that it is more than adequate in relation to the the Reserve Bank’s minimum requirements. The bank is being funded by seven individuals, all of whom are seasoned banking or IT and software development professionals, and is 45% black owned.
“We are fortunate in that we didn’t have go to any institution to raise the capital. And that does allow us to take a slightly different approach to the market. It means that we can focus on the long term so we’re not just focused on chasing short-term profitability; nor are we chasing maximum profitability in the short term. We really think that there is an opportunity here to cast many of the benefits of the business model and of the technology back into the target market in South Africa.”
Although no institutions are financial backers of the bank, it will have to select one of the big four banks as a mentor bank to help it fully integrate into the payment system. Jordaan said Bank Zero has not yet selected a mentor bank but that it will do so with guidance from the Reserve Bank.
It is likely to become the fourth new bank to enter the market in 2018 alongside Discovery’s bank, Tyme Digital by Commonwealth Bank and Post Bank.
This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission
Former First National Bank CEO Michael Jordaan on Tuesday revealed in a tweet that he is backing a new digital-only bank, called Bank Zero, to be launched in South Africa later this year.
In a post on Bank Zero’s newly launched website, the venture revealed that it has secured a mutual bank licence following a “rigorous and in-depth evaluation process” by the Reserve Bank.
“The mutual banking concept mirrors current social media trends and benefits customers by allowing for the support and creation of financial communities,” it said. “It also provides for a capital-efficient framework, and Bank Zero will be sharing the subsequent cost benefits with its customers (both businesses and individuals).”
The 45% black-owned bank is set for launch in the fourth quarter of 2018. It will be an “app-driven bank that offers added control and transparency, and a fresh take on banking”, it added.
Bank Zero was founded by Jordaan — who is a now a technology investor based in Stellenbosch — and by Yatin Narsai, who worked with Jordaan at FNB for 10 years.
They want to build a bank “without any legacy systems that can be costly to maintain”, they said in the statement.
It’s the first time that Jordaan has invested in a venture that looks set to compete directly with his former employer.
In the statement, Jordaan said: “Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram are the new normal for societies. Why shouldn’t banks also innovate in this era of wider connectedness whilst still ensuring a robust banking value proposition? Bank Zero is addressing these realities, while employing cutting-edge technologies and delivering state-of-the-art security.”
“Bank Zero is part of the new frontier of banking which has arrived through smartphones and associated digital technologies,” said Narsai. “Beyond the mobile technology revolution, other innovations will bring more financial transparency and control to our customers in an intuitive, secure and affordable way.” — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media
South African consumers are about to get their first taste of Chinese phone maker OnePlus’s line of smartphones. The company will launch its flagship OnePlus 5 device in South Africa next week, TechCentral can reveal.
Distribution for the brand in South Africa was recently awarded to Cernotech, a technology distributor responsible for brands such as CAT Phones, Deeper and Amaryllo. The OnePlus phones will be available first through First National Bank, and directly from Cernotech, through its website.
The OnePlus phones have attracted a growing audience of consumers drawn to the phones’ high-end specifications and midrange pricing.
OnePlus was founded in 2013 by Pete Lau, a former vice-president at Oppo, another big Chinese smartphone brand, and Carl Pei. It falls under BBK Electronics, which owns Oppo, Vivo and other smartphone and consumer electronics brands.
Known for its payoff line “Never Settle”, the company’s new flagship, the OnePlus 5, was launched internationally in June. The company is now planning a follow-up, the OnePlus 5T, which will be unveiled at an event in New York next week. It’s not immediately clear when the 5T model will be available in South Africa. The international price of the 5T will reportedly be the same as the 5.
The OnePlus 5 will be available in South Africa on 15 November at a recommended retail price of R11 999. Only the 128GB version will be made available locally. The OnePlus 5 will also be available through FNB Connect for R599/month as part of a 24-month contract.
The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, coupled with up to 8GB of RAM. A review unit delivered to TechCentral ahead of the launch came with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of flash storage; it was powered by Google’s Android 7.1.1.
The OnePlus 5 has dual rear cameras, one with a 16-megapixel sensor and other with a 20MP sensor with a telephoto lens to determine the distance between the sensor and objects in the environment.
In portrait mode, the two sensors work together to create a focal separation between faces and backgrounds, while a custom software algorithm makes your subject clear and well-lit, OnePlus said.
This results in a professional depth-of-field (bokeh) effect that keeps faces sharp in front of a blurred backdrop.
A “smart capture” feature combines optical zoom with multi-frame technology to let user’s zoom in with more clarity, while the dual-camera system is used to calculate depth so as to speed up autofocus.
There’s also a “pro mode” offering ISO, white balance, shutter-speed, focus and exposure modification, as well as an on-screen histogram and RAW image file support.
OnePlus claims half an hour of charge using its “dash charge” technology is enough to power the phone for a day. It has a 3 300mAh battery.
Craig Wilson, editor of South African consumer technology magazine Stuff, said he has “always been really impressed by OnePlus devices”.
“They’ve consistently offered flagship-matching or even -beating specs at considerably lower prices than bigger-name brands. The OnePlus 5, for example, includes a 20MP and 16MP dual-camera setup and 8GB of RAM, which best even Samsung’s recent Note8, which costs almost R7 000 more,” Wilson said.
“In its early days (2014-2015), OnePlus did a shrewd job of building a mystique around the brand by using an invite-only ordering system. That made its devices even more desirable and exclusive but also meant the company could effectively manage its supply chain and ensure it could match demand while avoiding building any handsets that wouldn’t be sold,” he added.
“It’s exciting that OnePlus products will at last be available to South African consumers through an official channel. If the local importer is able to offer reliable after-sales support, it could do well in the local market, especially as there are a growing number of consumers opting for Sim-only packages and a standalone handset purchase, instead of contracts with subsidised devices — that’s precisely the sort of consumer OnePlus targets. — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media
BrandsEye, a company that mines social media to determine people’s view on topics from elections to companies, has found that Capitec is South Africa’s most loved bank among social media users.
The annual South African Banking Sentiment Index tracked nearly 1.8m social media posts about the big five banks between September 2016 and August 2017.
To achieve high levels of accuracy, BrandsEye distributed a significant sample of the total posts to a “proprietary” crowd of vetted and trained local language speakers. Each post was then coded and verified by crowd members, who assessed the sentiment of the post.
“The unsolicited nature of social media makes platforms like Facebook and Twitter ideal sources to gauge public opinion,” said BrandsEye CEO JP Kloppers. “By analysing social media, one is able to listen to everyone that’s volunteering an opinion.”
BrandsEye partnered with certified customer experience (CX) professional Julia Ahlfeldt, developer of the Net Experience Effect, a barometer for the health of brand’s customer experiences.
The index integrated BrandsEye’s topics data from July 2017 with Ahlfeldt’s Elements of CX model, which ranks a business’s performance based on its “value proposition”, “ease of use”, “resolution” and “promise = delivery”, to uncover the drivers of customer feedback and why South African consumers prefer one bank over another.
For the third consecutive year, Capitec had the highest net sentiment. Capitec’s low bank charges were one of its strongest advantages over competitors and the most positive topic discussed.
Absa had the lowest net sentiment score.
Reviewing BrandsEye’s topics and sentiment data for July 2017 against Ahlfeldt’s Elements of CX shows banks performed the best against their “value proposition” (-11.7% sentiment), with this theme being the most talked about among consumers. Of these, Capitec scored +34.9% while Nedbank scored +1.2%.
All banks performed poorly on “ease of use”, averaging a net sentiment of –74.7%. The lowest individual score was Nedbank (-83.4%) and highest FNB (-55.6%).
Resolution of issues was also a pain point with an average score of -56.6%. Nedbank customers highlighted this as a concern. While they did not generate positive sentiment for this category, Capitec outperformed others in the industry, with a -29.1% net sentiment for topics within the CX element.
“Promise = delivery” was the second most talked about CX element, and faired only slightly higher than issues regarding resolution scoring -51.3%.
“It’s clear that South African banks have some work to do to keep their customers happy. Fees, look and feel of branches, reward programmes and technological innovations can drive loyalty, but only if brands live up to their promise to consumers. When they don’t, it can undercut the customer relationship and erode loyalty,” said Ahlfeldt. — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media
Dartcom Fibre Solutions has launched a new fibre factory near Mamelodi in Pretoria that, at peak, will produce about 12 000km of fibre-optic cabling a year.
The company, which is controlled by New GX Capital, an investment group focused on energy and telecommunications and founded by Dartcom chairman Khudu Pitje, opened the facility on Tuesday.
At peak, it will employ as many as 100 people per shift across three shifts per day.
Dartcom is a solutions provider for telecoms infrastructure, providing everything from dark fibre to manholes and backup batteries. It distributes products from its offices in Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban, while also serving other markets in Southern Africa, including Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Angola.
Pitje said in a podcast interview ahead of Tuesday’s factory launch that the facility is being constructed in partnership with OFS, part of the Furukawa Electric Company. The products will be produced under licence from OFS.
“Our relationship with OFS comes from 10 years ago when we started distributing their products in the South African market,” Pitje said. “We have now grown those products to sustain a local production facility.”
The factory is located on the outskirts of Mamelodi, a sprawling township near Pretoria, where Pitje’s father, Hezekiel Mothibe Pitje, was the first mayor. Pitje said Mamelodi is close to his family’s heart, and he wanted to build a facility that would create employment opportunities in hi-tech for residents of the township. The factory is 78% black owned.
“At least 90% of the people who work there will come from Mamelodi and Eesterus. We have plans to expand or double the capacity in about 18 months if the fundamentals of the telecoms sector stay in place. We believe we have a world-beating product that can serve the African market,” he said.
He said there are still enormous opportunities to address pent-up demand for data in South Africa and the broader region. “If you look at the population size and requirement for data, the continent is far from reaching its peak.”
Investments made by banks to beef up their digital capabilities and offer clients cost-effective services appear to be paying off.
Detailed figures disclosed in the financial results of four of the five largest banks in the country show e-migration is fast gaining traction.
Nedbank, which is aiming to create a “more agile, competitive and digital” bank, reported a 68% increase in value of transactions facilitated via its app suite to R18.6bn during the six months ended 30 June 2017. According to the bank, transactions were driven by an increase in the number “digitally active and enabled clients”, achieved in part through its nationwide network of intelligent depositor ATMs and 303 new digitally focused branches.
It has identified a number of cost-saving initiatives in its retail and business banking unit. It expects to derive around 30% of the cost savings through revenue opportunities from data-driven intelligence, new digital technologies and innovation integration.
Standard Bank, too, reported good progress. Mobile transactions across its domestic personal and business banking unit rose 55% to almost 500m transactions over the same period while its ATM and teller volumes fell by 5% and 15% respectively. It recorded 100m digital transactions across its rest of Africa business, up 47% from the previous corresponding period.
The bank is currently focusing on enhancing its digital capabilities, reskilling staff and revising its branch formats in a bid to meet changing client expectations and improving client experience.
FirstRand reported a 7% increase in fee and commission income growth at subsidiary FNB, partly driven by strong transaction volume growth in the banks digital and electronic channels, for the financial year ended 30 June 2017.
FNB reported a 68% increase in transactions via its banking app to just under 100 000. Mobile transactions recorded by the bank rose 20% to 43 818 while Internet banking transactions ticked up 7% to almost 215 000.
Capitec, voted South Africa’s best digital bank in the 2017 SITEisfaction survey, reported 220 753 cellphone and Internet banking transactions over the six months ended 31 August 2017, up 39% year-on-year. It also reported a marked increase at self-service terminals from 116 to 2 899, with overall self-service transactions — which include cellphone and Internet banking, self-service terminals and dual note recyclers — increasing 43%. In an analyst presentation, it said 71% of all possible transactions were done on self-help devices with clients banking via the remote app or phone saving a combined R165m.
In general, banks charge clients different fees for services rendered across different channels, with branch fees being the highest and digital fees being the lowest or in some cases nonexistent. It is widely expected that banks’ continued investment in enhancing their digital capabilities will lead to a more efficient provision of services and lower transaction fees for clients.
Barclays Africa Group did not disclose transaction volumes across its channels during the six months ended 30 June 2017. It did, however, note an 11% increase in amortisation of intangible assets as a result of investment in digital, data and automation capabilities. It also reported a 6% increase in South African banking costs to R14.4bn, part of which relates to continued investment in digital channels.
This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission
There are many ways to enjoy TechCentral’s podcasts, beyond simply streaming them from the website. The best way is by subscribing to them using an app on your phone, allowing you to listen in the car (via Bluetooth), at the gym or wherever you happen to be.
The TalkCentral RSS feed is available via iono.fm. Use it to subscribe to the show in your favourite reader (we’re big fans of Pocket Casts for Android, iOS and Windows Phone — look for “TechCentral” in its search engine).
If you want to subscribe to the new TechCentral podcast — interviews with technology leaders in South Africa and other smart and interesting people — you’ll find the RSS here.
We’d love your feedback on the show — please use the comments box below this article. Alternatively, drop us an e-mail. — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media
First National Bank has debuted the second generation of its own-branded smartphones. The ConeXis X2 and ConeXis A2 will be available for R69/month for the base model and R199/month for the premium model, and will be offered free to consumers who are on eBucks rewards level 5.
The launch of the new smartphones comes just over a year after the bank launched its first smartphones. Like the originals, the ConeXis X1 and A1, are made by ZTE.
FNB said it has sold about 76 000 of the original models.
The premium X2 is a 4G smartphone featuring 32GB of flash storage and 3GB of RAM. It features dual cameras on the back — one is 13 megapixels, the other 2MP — and a 5MP front-facing camera. The phone, which runs Android Nougat, supports tap-and-pay at the point of sale through FNB’s Pay service. It has a 5-inch screen, 2 800mAh battery and a fingerprint scanner. It also has an eight-way processor and supports virtual reality applications.
It costs R199/month (up from R150/month for the X1 at launch), and comes with a monthly 25 minutes of calls and 100MB of data on the bank’s own FNB Connect network, a “virtual” mobile operator that piggybacks on Cell C’s infrastructure. A R1 500 deposit, refundable after 24 months, is payable upfront. People on different eBucks tiers get between 10% and 100% off the price.
The second phone, the ConeXis A2, is a 3G phone with a 4.5-inch display, 8GB of flash storage and 1GB of RAM. With a 2 000mAh battery and a quad-core processor, it costs R69/month (up R10/month compared to the A1 model’s launch price) and comes with a monthly 15 minutes of voice and 50MB of data. It has a quad-core processor. eBucks level discounts also apply; a R500 refundable deposit is payable.