FNB Connect sees doubled data, voice consumption

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Bradwin Roper, FNB Connect CEO.
Bradwin Roper, FNB Connect CEO.

At the end of December 2020, FNB Connect had 815 124 customers − a 22% year-on-year growth in true active customer numbers, CEO Bradwin Roper revealed to ITWeb in an interview.

Launched in June 2015, FNB Connect is the bank’s mobile offering. It is available to FNB customers and allows them to choose between a range of contract and prepaid packages.

FNB Connect is a three-pillar business made up of the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), device and service provider business.

With the launch of the MVNO component, FNB became the first bank in the country to establish such a mobile offering, piggybacking on Cell C’s network.

Sharing some of the growth highlights of the MVNO business over the past year, Roper said ‘easy’ and gold account-holders make up two-thirds (67%) of the total active customer base, adding there’s been some exciting growth numbers in the premium and private wealth account customer base.

“We saw a 37% growth in the premium base, driven by 45% growth in our private wealth customers.”

Voice isn’t dead

While incumbent telcos have reported a decline in voice, Roper pointed out it is still incredibly important to South Africans.

For example, FNB Connect’s Talk Max and Talk Max Pro plans have seen “significant” growth. “If you just think about network coverage…voice is incredibly important. If you think about feature phone penetration as well as just MNO coverage, voice is critical.”

FNB Connect saw a 132% increase in voice minutes. In addition, 134 million voice minutes were used via Free Connect, based on a 12-month cumulative view.

“That just says to you and I that voice is not dead,” he emphasised. “What we've been doing around pricing of our Talk Max plans, as well as including a Free Connect component, shows South Africans love to talk, and voice is certainly not dead.”

Turning to data usage, the CEO said FNB Connect has seen 125% growth year-on-year.

“That's more than double data consumption,” he noted. “As much as I speak about 22% customer growth, we've more than doubled our data consumption.”

Likewise, a 12-month cumulative view shows FNB Connect customers used over 750 million megabytes of free data via the Free Connect component.

“We’ve seen more than double growth on both data consumption as well as voice consumption.”

Driving innovation

Within the service provider business, Roper said there’s lots of innovation taking place, with growth of 11% year-on-year.

Furthermore, there has been 14% growth in the premium base and a 19% increase in the business segment.

In terms of customer centricity, the CEO explained that FNB Connect has zero-rated airtime purchases on the FNB app, and also launched prepaid vouchers in the entertainment, transport, music and gaming categories.

As a result, the bank has seen a 23% increase in app usage, he stated. “60% of our sales are happening on the FNB banking app. This has been a big strategic driver of app adoption.

“This business is also, for want of a better word, an online retailer. We just don't have the burden of last mile delivery. Everything that you can buy in that business is essentially redeemable in real-time with instant gratification and is virtual in nature.

“At its peak, this business runs nearly 3.3 times the size of the biggest online retailer in terms of turnover. It is a significant business and a significant online retailer business. This online retail space is hotting up. It’s a mature business, and I’m excited about where we are taking it in terms of innovations.

“I’m excited that as FirstRand, we have this platform as an online retail sales platform that we can grow and enhance.”

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