JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: Big four bank First National Bank (FNB) has started trialling a push-based instant messaging (IM) service that will see its inContact service modified, to become an IM version on the Banking App. FNB's fraud prevention and account management service, inContact, sends customers an SMS or e-mail each time a transaction above R100 is carried out on any of their FNB accounts, free of charge.
According to FNB, as part of a series of developments in the bank's telecommunications enterprise, this weekend saw the start of a pilot process with staff, which will serve to garner information and an understanding of inContact as an IM service, before launching it to the public. FNB has not yet indicated the duration of the preliminary trial.
When FNB launched its Banking App in July 2011, it included the Connect phone, a digital phone developed in-house by FNB Connect. The digital phone allowed customers to make free calls to FNB, as well as other App customers. In November 2011, FNB added the messaging functionality to the FNB App, which allowed users to send and receive IMs for free to other App users. In May 2012, the phone was updated to allow Premier Banking customers to make free calls, as well as message their “Premier Banker” for free directly from the Connect phone.
FNB says the new version of inContact will present a user with a timeline version of expenditure. Messages will come through as a push IM to the Banking App, enabling users to see a list version of their expenses in their messages icon on the app.
Giuseppe Virgillito, product owner for the FNB Banking App, says presenting inContact as a timeline on users' phones gives them added simplicity, because they can go to one central place to see their inContact messages – rather than receive them from multiple SMS numbers. “Messages will be clearly marked on the phone as being inContact from FNB.”
Virgillito says the growth and popularity of IM platforms spurred the bank to make the changes.While staff will initially receive both the IM and the SMS, FNB says – ultimately – inContact as an IM only could potentially have cost savings and efficiency benefits for the bank, which is also a telecommunications licensee in control of its own data network.
According to FNB, its Banking App has a user base of over 220 000 active customers, with 30 000 still signing up each month. Virgillito says: “We are growing a big enough user base of clients on the FNB App in order to provide an alternative to SMS. As [the platform] grows, the potential for free messages between client-to-bank, as well as client-to-client grows with it.”
He says the bank's latest modification will “definitely not be the last stage in the evolution of our phone” and a lot more can be expected in the near future.comments powered by Disqus