First National Bank is stepping up its foray into the mobile telecommunications industry, launching its own-branded smartphones. The low-cost but “high-quality” ConeXis X1 and A1 phones will be available from 380 branches around the country.
Unsurprisingly, the phones come bundled with FNB’s smartphone banking app. Jan Kleynhans, who heads up the consumer segment for FNB, said the initiative is meant to drive its customers to its mobile banking channels, allowing them to bank wherever they are.
The A1 is pitched at price-sensitive Easy bank account holders. The phone is available for R59/month with 15 minutes of bundled airtime and 50MB/month of data included.
The higher specification X1 is aimed at Gold and Premium (Premier, Private Clients and Private Wealth) customers. The X1 is available for R150/month with 25 minutes and 100MB/month of data included.
FNB offers up to a 100% rebate on the X1 monthly instalments depending on the customer’s eBucks rewards level.
Gold customers on eBucks rewards level of 3, 4 and 5 will be rebated R60, R90 and R150 (100%) on the monthly repayment respectively. Premium customers will be rewarded from level 1.
FNB has tightly integrated the ConeXis smartphone offering with its rewards and banking programme, rewarding customers with cellular discounts. FNB-banked customers can earn up to 40% on their monthly cellular spend dependent on their eBucks rewards level.
The launch of the new phones comes after the bank debuted its mobile virtual network operator, FNB Connect, last year. FNB piggybacks on Cell C’s network infrastructure.
The bank on Tuesday also announced it is introducing an unlimited calls offering through FNB Connect at a cost of R399/month. The calls on the new plan, which is available from 24 August, apply to any local network.
The A1 and the X1 are available to customers who have a banking transactional account. They require an FNB Connect Sim card. They must put down a R500 (A1) or R1 500 (X1) deposit to purchase the phone, though this is refundable after 24 months, with interest.
The phones are Sim-locked to FNB Connect. The bank denied that this contravenes Independent Communications Authority of South Africa regulations.
“We received legal opinion in terms of what we can do from a locking perspective,” said Kartik Mistry, head of smart devices at FNB. “The opinion we received is we are allowed to do it.”
The phones will be unlocked after 24 months, after which they can be used with any network.
Both phones are made by ZTE in China.
The A1 has a 4-inch display; supports 3G (not 4G); has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera (2-megapixel front); quad-core, 1,3GHz Qualcomm CPU, 8GB storage and 1GB RAM; 1 400mAh battery; and a microSD card slot (with support for cards of up to 32GB in size).
The phone runs Android Lollipop and ships with a screen protector and a 2 600mAh power bank.
The X1, meanwhile, has a 5,2-inch HD IPS display; supports 3G and 4G/LTE, has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera (5-megapixel front); Qualcomm quad-core 1,3GHz CPU, 8GB of storage and 1GB RAM; 2 540mAh battery; and microSD slot (128GB cards are supported).
The phone runs Android Marshmallow and ships with a 16GB memory card, a screen protector and a back cover. — © 2016 NewsCentral Media