FNB launches new cellphone bank account

Withdrawing money from an ATM.
Withdrawing money from an ATM.
Image: MARIANNE PRETORIUS/Sunday Times.

First National Bank yesterday launched a new cardless mobile bank account that you can open without stepping into a branch and do transactions using your mobile phone and a digitally generated PIN.

And, there are no monthly fees on the account.

The account uses the same technology all big banks use to allow account holders to send you cash when you don't have an account - FNB's eWallet, Standard Bank's Instant Money, Nedbank's Send iMali and Absa's CashSend. FNB is now offering you an account from which you can do your transactions using this technology.

FNB's new eWallet eXtra is the first truly digital account in the country, Peter Woodhatch, chief executive of the Easy Segment at FNB, says.

All other banking accounts require cards to transact, he says.

With FNB's eWallet eXtra, you get an account number so you can receive money from anyone with a bank account, from anyone using the eWallet facility or from anyone who deposits cash in your account at an FNB ATM.

Gugu Zikhali, head of transaction products for the mass market at FNB, says you can open the account in under three minutes using what is known as a dial string on your cellphone and inputting your name and South African identity number. A dial string is what you typically use to check your mobile phone balance and buy airtime or data.

Opening a transactional bank account typically involves visiting a bank branch and much paperwork including proof of address, copies of identity documents and payslips.

The new account is aimed as consumers who do not earn a regular income and want to avoid the monthly fees that you are typically charged when you open a transactional bank account.

Woodhatch says FNB's research shows that consumers such as seasonal workers tend to abandon transactional accounts because of ongoing monthly fees.

There are no monthly fees on the new eWallet eXtra mobile account, but you will pay transaction fees.

Once someone has sent money to your mobile phone account you will receive a personal identification number (PIN). Using this PIN you can withdraw cash either from an FNB ATM or from a cashier inside a Spar store, Zikhali says.

You can also use the PIN to pay for purchases at the Spar stores. The account can also be used to pay accounts and buy prepaid airtime, data and electricity. You can have a balance of up R14 000 in the new account instead of only R5 000 that the old eWallet account can accommodate. The spend limit on the new account is R3 000 a day and R24 000 a month. Transaction fees on the new eWallet eXtra account are:

The new account will be available from the end of May to anybody over the age of 16 who owns a cellphone.

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