Time off work usually means a chance to lay back, switch off your computer, and relax. This past festive season proved to be a different retreat. Not only were consumers on holiday with their family and friends, they decided to tag along an extra friend: the cellphone- their only constant link to their banking.

The result, says First National Bank’s (FNB’s) Mobile and Transact Solutions division, was a furiously frantic festive season with the month of December 2007 seeing the channel achieve a record of nearly R300-million worth of cellphone banking transactions. This was more than double the transaction value of the same time the previous year.
Len Pienaar, head of FNB’s Mobile and Transact Solutions, attributed the phenomenal growth of the channel’s activity this past festive season to the proliferation of cellphone banking customers and the increased comfort of cellphone owners with conducting banking transactions on their cellphones.
“Mobility research conducted earlier this year clearly indicated that cellphone banking is maturing in the South African market. Acceptance of the channel across all market segments is significant and accelerating. In the mainstream market, in particular, latest figures illustrate that it is now the most used electronic banking channel among FNB customers in this segment. So it makes sense that more people are at ease banking on their cellphones, especially from distant locations.”
Prepaid purchases, since the inception of this channel, remain the most popular of all transaction types. These include prepaid airtime for the network operators, Telkom prepaid sales as well as prepaid electricity. International calling cards have also started to gain popularity.
These customised offerings have also seen FNB’s Cellphone Banking channel enjoy bumper festive seasons in African subsidiaries Namibia and Botswana. Collectively they processed more than 100 000 transactions in December.