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The coveted R1-million Annual Innovation Award goes to First National Bank’s cellphone banking for its cellphone payment solution, Cell Pay Point.
The award is the highest accolade given to FNB employees as part of the bank’s strategic focus on innovation, which has positioned FNB as the employer of choice that rewards talent and entrepreneurial creativity.

FNB CEO Michael Jordaan says the payment solution was the first ever to be launched by a South African bank.
“This innovation represents a key development in the payment industry’s future in this country, and FNB is immensely proud of having debuted this innovation. It is a radical innovation and a first mobile payment solution to market, and we see every indication of it driving the payment industry’s future,” says Jordaan.  
As a realtime payment settlement facility that allows our customers to safely pay online using any transactional FNB account via the mobile handset, this innovation advances levels of both service delivery and business efficiency.
Launched earlier this year by FNB’s Mobile and Transact Solutions division, which who walked away with the evening’s R1 million winning cheque, FNB’s Cell Pay Point was developed to bridge the gap in purchasing limitations in the online market.
Len Pienaar, Head of FNB’s Mobile and Transact Solutions, explains that online fraud affected both customers and merchants on an ongoing basis.
“A solution needed to be found where customers did not have to part with financial details. Merchants could provide additional security and positive identification to prevent online fraud,” says Pienaar.
“With Cell Pay Point, no customer information is shared with the merchant and the fraud risk is removed as the handset provides an additional level of security while the MOPIN (or unique pin) provides positive identification. The solution is also “plug and play” enabling large scale rollout to merchant web sites quickly,” explains Pienaar, whose team has scooped the Innovation award for the second time in the competition’s three- year history.
The FNB Innovation Award was started by the bank in 2005 as an annual event to reward employees for the successful incorporation of innovation and best practice into the development of new strategies and business solutions.
As Jordaan explains, the competition has helped the bank realise its human capital potential as a key differentiator in a highly competitive banking industry.
“By investing in a system that continually encourages and rewards innovation, we are able to entrench our philosophy of entrepreneurship, and through a constantly pioneering approach, pass on innovative product offerings to our customers,” says Jordaan.
Through a structured channel, staff members participate in the FNB Innovation Campaign by logging ‘ideas’ on a dedicated staff web site. Staff members are then expected to implement these ideas and show the benefits that supports FNB’s strategy.
To date, almost 10 000 ideas have been logged on the FNB Innovation site, half of which have already been implemented.
Of the many innovation ideas received in 2007, 530 were implemented – up from last year’s 360. There were 50 finalists this year and 16 winners.