First National Bank (FNB) will launch cellphone banking in Botswana on Friday in a first by a local bank to rollout the service across countries. And bold plans are underway to introduce cellphone banking in some other neighbouring African countries.
Friday’s launch will make every cellphone handset in Botswana a potential banking channel.
Initially, the service will only be available on the Mascom cellular network, which has approximately 500,000 subscribers.
But FNBB envisages activating FNB cellphone banking on the Orange network shortly.
The cellphone banking service will also be available via the country’s second cellular mobile operator, Orange, in the near future.
FNB Mobile Transact CEO Len Pienaar says FNB is excited to be the first South African commercial bank to export its cellphone banking model, buoyed by its nearly 300,000 registered customer base in South Africa.
Pienaar says FNB is confident that its cellphone banking technology will be applied successfully across borders to address one of the key challenges facing developing countries – providing convenient access to banking for the previously unbanked.
He however stresses that each country has unique needs and that the venture is being driven by FNB Botswana, together with their mobile partners.
Pienaar says FNB’s SA cellphone banking foundation provides a solid base for the bank to establish and grow its mobile banking footprint faster in Botswana.
"The large geographical area and distances in Botswana provide adequate scope for cellphone banking to take off with little or no cannibalization across channels," says Pienaar.
FNB has been operating in Botswana since 1992, and is the second largest commercial bank in terms of assets and profitability. It has 14 branches, 54 ATMs, 74 Mini-ATMs and 1,300 Point of Sale devices.