Big four bank First National Bank (FNB) has notched up a record six million digitally-active customers.
This emerged when the bank, this morning, announced its financial results for the six months to 31 December 2020, which, it says, reflect some improvement in the operating environment despite sustained pressure on consumers and businesses due to COVID-19 and the related lockdown measures.
FNB’s normalised profit before tax declined by 19% over the six months and the bank delivered a respectable 30.1% return on equity.
The bank’s customer base in SA increased by 3% to 8.5 million clients and the eWallet transacting base is 2.8 million users.
According to FNB, economic strain and the expiry of temporary credit relief measures impacted some customers, resulting in non-performing loans increasing by 26%.
It notes the six months saw strong momentum in FNB’s digital platform strategy, with a record six million digitally-active customers, and the transacting base on the FNB app exceeded 3.9 million for the first time.
FNB CEO Jacques Celliers says: “Our resilience in the previous six months puts us in a stronger position to accelerate exponential help for customers in our transact, credit, insure and invest activities in the months ahead.
“We are particularly pleased to see that our contextual digital platform continues to be warmly embraced by our customers, evident in increasing adoption of our market-leading digital interfaces. Our customers have on average logged-in 29 times per month on the FNB app, increasing total average monthly logins by 41% and, on average, each customer engaged on the app for almost 46 minutes in December 2020.
“Similarly, we are encouraged by the ‘green shoots’ evident in our customer data, which reflects that FNB Retail’s new and existing customer incomes are showing progressive signs of recovery.”
FNB Commercial showed resilience to deliver 3% growth in earnings despite lockdown-related challenges faced by clients in sectors such as commercial property, tourism and hospitality, says the bank.
It adds that FNB Retail earnings were down 34% as customers remained under economic pressure.
FNB says its retail unit responded to the financial difficulties of personal banking customers by offering extended cashflow relief to those who qualified, introduced more ways to earn eBucks and most account fees remained flat or reduced.
It points out that FNB Retail also facilitated over half a million direct interactions with customers to help them improve their money management.
FNB Wealth and Investments continued to scale, recording 18% growth in its account base, although assets under management were muted, the bank says.
In insurance, it notes, FNB Life accelerated the digitisation of claims processes to minimise angst for Credit Life policyholders, with good sales of funeral policies.
In 2020, FNB rolled-out new nav» smart tools to help individual customers with budgets, while more than 2 000 SME home services suppliers like plumbers are using the new digital marketplace to provide services to millions of FNB app users, the bank says.
It adds that nav» Money has exceeded 1.7 million users, helping customers with credit, saving and spend decisions. nav» Car has over half a million vehicle owners who used the platform to pay in excess of 100 000 traffic fines and renew 36 000 vehicle licences.
The bank also introduced its Virtual Card on the FNB app, with over 100 000 Virtual Cards activated in the first week of launching, FNB says.
“Notwithstanding the difficulties that customers continue to experience as a result of the pandemic, we are humbled by the 180 years of support and we are grateful to be their preferred partner in navigating the current challenges,” Celliers says.
“Equally, our contribution to the lives of our customers and society makes this a fulfilling journey of help. We remain committed to doing even more through financial and non-financial support in the months and years ahead. We also extend our gratitude to all frontline workers across the country, irrespective of industry, for their selfless service to our nation,” he concludes.