Capitec banking app launches

Capitec is set to launch its Remote Banking app this week, offering core transactional functionality to all its Global One account holders via mobile on all platforms.

The app showed up on the Google Play and Apple App stores on Thursday (12 June) available for download. The app provides core functionality (payments, transfers, balance checking and authentication) to banking customers – but comes with one caveat.

According to Capitec, the app will only officially launch on Tuesday, 17 June – and in order to make use of it, Capitec requires account holders to verify and authenticate the app at a Capitec Branch.

The reason for this is simple, the bank told BusinessTech: added security – which Capitec says will be stronger than what other banking apps provide.

According to Capitec, the app’s functionality is tied to an individual account holder and the device in use.  To activate the app, Capitec customers are required to register and authenticate it using biometric data (fingerprint) already tied to the account.

This is done at a Capitec branch, where a certificate will then be uploaded to the device, allowing for secure remote banking while on the move and while working online.

Capitec noted that this process provides an added layer of security to accounts and, even currently, changing a cell phone number used to verify transactions would require the same security checks.

“The app is linked to the physical cellphone and not the SIM card – which means no SIM-swap fraud. The client chooses a Remote PIN which is used to access the app and authorise transactions,” Capitec said.

In cases where a device is lost, stolen or broken, customers will be required to repeat the authentication process.

Subsequently, the new app replaces the Capitec Bank Online app released in 2013, which had a sole function to provide a security token in transactions. This functionality has now been absorbed into the app.

A different kind of banking app

According to Halmar Vockins, one of the app’s developers, the app has been in development for close to 18 months due to Capitec’s desire to make the app work on all phones – both feature and smartphones – in line with the bank’s bottom-up approach.

Vockins has a technical background rooted in cross-platform development, having previously worked at Mxit in the years before the World of Avatar acquisition.

Since 2012, Capitec has maintained that its mobile strategy has been tied to a bottom-up approach, whereby it has made mobile banking accessible to as many people as possible, irrespective of device. Thus, the bank focused its mobile services on the USSD platform.

Capitec highlights this point as a key differentiator of its new app – it can work on any phone that has internet connectivity, including feature phones, Android devices, iOS and BlackBerry OS (and BlackBerry 10).

An app for Windows Mobile will be coming in a few weeks, Capitec said, while phones which are still based in 2G technology still have the bank’s USSD functionality to turn to.

Due to its requirement to function on all devices, Capitec said that the app would, at first, focus on core banking functionality, with other features to be added in the future.

“There are some really exciting things in the works,” Capitec said.

At present, the app offers the following functionality:

  • Paying beneficiaries;
  • Paying accounts;
  • Transferring money;
  • Checking balances;
  • and approving sign-in and certain transactions.

“Prepaid purchases are not available on the app yet, but clients can still buy airtime and electricity on their cellphones using the USSD number *120*3279#. This functionality will be added to the app later this year,” Capitec said.

FNB kick-started the banking app race in South Africa with the widely-lauded launch of its Banking App in July 2011.

Both Nedbank and Standard Bank followed suit with their app launches a year later in June and July 2012, while Absa launched its banking app in April 2013.

This article was first published on BusinessTech.

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Capitec banking app launches