Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO of FNB Connect, has told Wired to the Web in an interview earlier this week that it’s a value add to existing customers, and in no way meant to compete with existing networks. The MVNO uses Cell C’s towers but and Ramlakan says they are open to using other networks.
The FNB Connect SIM card has been in the making for the past three years. I’ve been testing one for the last couple of days, after signing an NDA, but the news leaked yesterday, so the embargo has since been lifted. The three options available are prepaid, top-up (24 months), and flexi (month-to-month; build you own). The Flexi option lets you change it every month, via online banking, to suit your needs.
FNB’s pricing guide can be found here.
Ramlakan says the reason they took three years to get the product right was due to branding, which was very important. Additionally, they wanted the customer to get the same experience from a telco as they did from their bank. “We chose the hard way and it fits into every system in the bank.” The product would have just fitted in, says Ramlakan, because on the technology front their competence in IT and how structured they are towards innovation was obvious.
Since FICA trumps RICA, all customers will be issued with a SIM card without filling in additional paperwork, at no cost. The SIM card will be delivered within three business days. If your SIM gets stolen, you can apply for another one online, and pay for delivery charges.
FNB has over 4 million cellphone banking customers, while the app and web has over 1 million. Over 285 000 smart devices have been sold to date. “Our offering will be tailored into these channels, with ebucks rewards integrated into it.
FNB staff have been testing the product since November last year. “It was a long pilot to make sure we are putting the right product out there.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
– The FNB Connect SIM will launch to the public on 15 June (media launch on 9 June)
– FNB customers can apply for their SIM cards free, via online banking
– You can have a maximum of 10 SIM cards linked to your account (families, etc)
– Your account will be maintained and managed the exact same way as your FNB accounts
– You will see a “My SIM cards” tab next to your account tabs for ordering and choosing a package.
– You can load airtime/data directly from the tab (I tried it on my profile and it’s really simple)
– You can see your transactions in real time (data, calls, texts) like you would your bank statement
– You can do a SIM swap, block a stolen SIM directly online
– You can activate international roaming online (so if you forget to do it before you leave the country, no problem, just log into your profile and do it anywhere)
– Auto-topup option lets you recharge when you reach R5 airtime up to R20; the same applies to when you are running out of data. Both have a cap limit you can set for obvious reasons
– You can apply for a SIM at a branch if you want (stock dependent), but FNB has been moving away from having customers go into a branch, so online is just easier
– Data bundles purchased will last up to 60 days; and expires at the end of the following month it was purchased
– Once you receive your SIM card, you can activate it online (takes between 3-24 hours to get connected). As a security measure, you will be required to put your cheque card number and PIN before proceeding
– Itemised billing is available at R10 per SIM
– Functionality will be available on the app soon, however I’ve been using it on my mobile app, it’s just so convenient.
– Customers earn ebucks on all spend; tied to your tier status
– Billing for smart devices and SIM cards will remain separate
– If you switch your inContact number to the new SIM you get, you will be rewarded with 50MB of data free, each month.
Most of us have so many devices lying around, I think it’s a brilliant move (and makes sense) by FNB to offer free SIM cards and it’s excellent for these secondary devices.
This post was edited on 6 June to add the the last point re InContact SMSes.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org