FNB began piloting the messaging service as a push instant message (IM) with staff on Sunday (15 July 2012).

The launch for the IM version of inContact follows a series of developments in FNB’s telecommunications foray. FNB launched its Banking App in July 2011, which included the Connect phone, a digital phone developed in-house by FNB Connect. The digital phone allowed customers to make free calls to FNB, as well as other App customers.

In November 2011, FNB added the messaging functionality to the FNB App, which allowed users to make and receive IM’s for free to other App users. In May 2012, the phone was updated to allow Premier Banking customers to make free calls as well as message their Premier Banker for free directly from the Connect phone.

According to Giuseppe Virgillito, product owner for the FNB Banking App: “The evolution of the Connect phone to include inContact is a natural step in the evolution of our proprietary software, to unlock further benefit for our clients.”

FNB staff will have first preview of the new messaging service, which will not be immediately available to the public.

According to FNB, the new version of inContact will present a user with a timeline version of expenditure. These messages will come through as a push IM to the Banking App.  The benefit to the user is being able to see a list version of their expenses in their messages icon on the FNB Banking App.

As part of the pilot FNB staff will initially receive both the instant message as well as the SMS. Users would also be able to customise the message notification limits.

Sending inContact as an IM could potentially also have cost savings and efficiency benefits for the bank, which is also a telecommunications licensee in control of its own data network.

Virgillito adds: “We are growing a big enough user base of clients on the FNB App in order to provide real value with an alternative to SMS. We currently have more than 220 000 active clients, in less than a year since launch, with growth increasingly on the rise. We are now adding more than 30 000 clients a month. As this platform grows, the potential for free messages between client to bank as well as client to client grows with it.”