FNB South Africa unveils a mobile bank account for unbanked consumers

In a move that comes a decade after First National Bank of South Africa (FNB SA) launched their innovative mobile money offering, eWallet, the bank has announced a new digital banking solution to bank the underbanked and unbanked. Known as eWallet eXtra, the new digital banking solution from FNB SA offers a bank account without all the stringent processes and fees that come with a traditional bank account in South Africa.

What also makes it interesting is that it allows those interested an option use a feature phone or a smartphone to open a bank account without having to set foot in a FNB SA branch.

ewallet extra
Gugu Zikhali, Head of Transaction Products: Mass Market at FNB SA, speaking at the eWallet eXtra launch event held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“This is a simple, accessible and cost effective solution. If you are above the age of 16 and own a cellphone, you’ll be able to get a mobile bank account with a unique account number in less than three minutes, and you don’t need a bank card to transact. “eWallet eXtra will enable users to send or receive deposits from individuals and other banks, store funds for an unlimited period, pay accounts and also buy prepaid products like airtime, data and electricity. Users can also on send to other recipients and withdraw at any FNB ATM or at tills across participating *SPAR stores, which also allow for over the counter purchases. The daily spend limit is R3 000 and R24 000 per month,” said Gugu Zikhali, Head of Transaction Products: Mass Market at FNB SA at a launch event held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The launch, FNB SA indicated, comes after they did research and concluded that the township economy will highly likely be one of the drivers of South Africa's economy. The bank also said that it sees its new eWallet eXtra offering as a great contribution towards financial inclusion in South Africa.

A lot of financial inclusion talk usually happens when big financial institutions or even smaller FinTech startups launch their new offerings. Oft times, these new products don't do much for financial inclusion as the transaction and service fees alone prove to be expensive especially for consumers who have previously been transacting on a cash basis. However, FNB SA seem to have taken this into account as the eWallet eXtra offering comes with no monthly account fees. Added to that, unlike its predecessor (ie eWallet), the eWallet eXtra offering has an account number allowing those seeking employment, as an example, to be able to use it to receive their wages in cases where an employer states a bank account as a requirement.

Some interesting features of the new digital banking solution from FNB SA also include:

  • 100% mobile, is no need to visit a branch to open an account.

  • No paper work, the process is handled digitally and requires only a consumer's name, surname and ID number via USSD and this is verified with the Dpeartment of Home Affairs in South Africa.

  • Allows for USSD based card-less purchases at selected retail stores (currently only at SPAR).

Speaking to iAfrikan, Zikhali also indicated that they hope to make the card-less shopping feature available at more retail stores as time goes on.

The solution will be available starting June 2018.

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