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SA's FNB adds ChatPay feature, overhauls banking app

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South Africa's First National Bank (FNB) is branching further into the fintech space with the launch of new mobile-specific payment options that target the country's ever-evolving digital payment needs.

While launching a redesigned logo and an updated smartphone app last week, the bank introduced a number of innovative payment and money transfer solutions including ChatPay, which allows customers to pay or request payment from any FNB customer using the app's chat functionality without needing a bank account number.

The bank already had its own digital wallet, FNB Pay, which works similarly to Apple Pay or Google Wallet and allows users to pay for goods and services using their smartphone rather than a physical bank card.

FNB said that it now plans to make FNB Pay the "payments umbrella" for the whole banking app which will allow customers to split a bill via their cell phone and also lets business owners receive contactless payments on their Android smart devices, without the need for a separate point-of-sale device.

Earlier this year the bank revealed that monthly payments via FNB Pay digital wallets have surpassed 1 billion South African rand (US$55 million). It said that the use of FNB Pay-supported digital wallets has increased by more than 800% year-on-year in volumes.

Digital evolution

"We continue to facilitate our customers' journey from analogue to digital and digital to platform. We're excited to see millions of our customers embracing the migration to more accessible, user-friendly, and safer interfaces," said FNB CEO Jacques Celliers.

"Our digital interfaces have become a one-stop shop for customers' financial and lifestyle needs, with over 3 billion transactions and 1.6 billion digital interactions over the past 12 months," Celliers added.

As well as ChatPay, the company has integrated a number of other new features into the bank's app including:

  • Instant Payments – allows customers to pay anyone via the FNB app using a card number. The recipient gets the money instantly in their bank account, irrespective of where they bank.

  • PayMe – allows customers to request a payment digitally to any FNB-banked cellphone number. The person requesting the money follows a few prompts, and the person sending the money is immediately notified and needs to accept the request to make an immediate payment.

  • Bill Payments – allows customers to use the app to pay bills through fintech services like EasyPay or [email protected] including municipal rates, medical and other services.

  • Virtual Card – allows customers to use their global virtual cards for travel bookings such as buying flights or booking accommodation and adding the virtual card to third-party digital wallets such as Google Wallet or Apple Pay for safe payments when travelling abroad.

  • Speedee App – allows businesses to receive contactless payments on their Android smart devices, without the need for a separate point-of-sale device.

    Want to know more about mobile financial services in Africa? Check out our dedicated Fintech content channel here on Connecting Africa.

    "Customers can now personalize their FNB app by customizing its home screen and selecting frequently used or preferred features," FNB added in a statement.

    FNB also introduced Money Protect, which it claimed was an "industry-first benefit" of free insurance cover for certain fraud-related losses when using its app or ATMs.

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    *Top image shows FNB's newly designed smartphone app. (Source: FNB)

    — Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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