I’ve had a flurry of DMs and messages from FNB customers about the 2% fee being charged for international merchants operating in South Africa as of 1 July 2022. This applies to companies like Netflix, Airbnb, PayPal, Apple iTunes etc that charge customers in Rands for transactions in South Africa.

Here’s the pricing update via their website:

I reached out to FNB to query the charge, and this is the reply sent to Wired to the Web, directly from FNB:

“International Card Payments consists of card present and card not present transactions conducted with international merchants via point-of-sale swipes, online shopping, Virtual Cards, or FNB Pay-supported digital wallets such as Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Fitbit, and Garmin on the FNB App. The transactions are conducted in either a local currency, such as the Rand, or foreign currencies, such as the US Dollar, Pound, or the Euro. 

Netflix, Airbnb, PayPal, Apple iTunes, Booking.com, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Bolt, Spotify, YouTube, Microsoft, and Alibaba, to name a few, are common examples of international companies that conduct transactions in Rands. Even though these transactions are denominated in Rands, they still involve international companies, and the bank incurs international transaction processing costs.

In the past, only non-Rand international transactions were subject to a 2.75% fee. However, as part of our annual pricing review, which was communicated to all customers in June of this year, we reduced the fee across all currencies to 2% for pricing simplicity and consistency, and it now also applies to Rand denominated transactions, in line with the industry norm.

FNB and RMB Private Bank customers who use their Global Account to make international payments abroad or with international merchants pay a discounted 1% fee. Our Global Account allows customers to use their physical card, our FNB Virtual Card, or FNB Pay-supported digital wallets for faster and more secure online and in-store purchases. Customers also enjoy additional purchase protection such as dispute or chargeback rights.

As part of our efforts to assist our customers in better managing their money and lifestyles, we provide them with several ways to manage their streaming subscriptions. This includes allowing them to load Netflix and Spotify subscriptions onto their FNB Virtual Card with rewards of up to 40% back in eBucks. In the past year, our customers earned over R16 million (approximately $1 million) back in eBucks on these services.”

You will likely already have seen these charges starting this month. Unfortunately, it is a backtrack from what FNB said last year: