FNB Connect unveils new smartphones

Johannesburg, 27 Sep 2017
Read time 3min 10sec
FNB's new flagship ConeXis X2 smartphone.

First National Bank (FNB) has launched the next generations of its FNB-branded smartphones.

The bank's mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), FNB Connect, unveiled the two new smartphones at an event in Johannesburg today, the ConeXis A2 and the flagship ConeXis X2, which will be available from FNB branches from 2 October.

"It's been over two years since the launch of FNB Connect and roughly a year since FNB became the first bank in Africa to launch its own branded smartphones. We are incredibly excited about our digital journey and ongoing commitment to empower our customers with tools to fully embrace an end-to-end digital experience," says Christoph Nieuwoudt, CEO of FNB's consumer segment.

In August 2016, FNB launched its first generation branded smartphones, the ConeXis A1 and X1. The bank today revealed it has sold around 75 000 ConeXis A1 and X1 smartphones over the past year and FNB Connect has sold a total of 487 000 smart devices.

Like the A1 and X1, the new A2 and X2 devices are manufactured in China by ZTE. Also, like the previous phones, these new models are SIM locked to the FNB Connect network.

FNB Connect launched as an MVNO in June 2015, making FNB the first bank in the country to establish a mobile offering. By November 2015, it had racked up 100 000 customers, and by April 2016, this had doubled to 200 000. As of 30 June 2017, the number of active mobile subscribers had grown to over 520 000, up from 400 000 the previous June.

X2 and A2

The flagship ConeXis X2 has a 5-inch display, 32GB storage capacity, multifunctional fingerprint reader and enhanced dual rear camera capabilities with 3D photo shooting. The X2 is enabled with tap-and-pay functionality using near-field communication and has a pre-installed FNB widget that allows instant message viewing, viewing of Connect subscription usage balances and access to quick recharges for airtime and data. The box the X2 comes in also doubles as a virtual reality headset.

The A2 has a 4.5-inch display and 8GB memory powered by an improved 2000mAh battery. Both devices are preloaded with FNB's zero-rated banking app and calls from Connect SIM subscribers to the FNB contact centre are free.

To get an X2, clients need to have at least R1 500 in an FNB savings account, and will pay R199 per month for 24 months for the phone, 25 free minutes and 100MB of data per month. Just like with the original X1 and A1, certain eBucks customers will be able to get a rebate off the monthly instalment, with level five eBucks customers getting a full 100% rebate of R199.

For an A2, clients need only have R500 in a savings account, and will pay R69 per month for 24 months and receive 15 free minutes and 50MB of data per month. Rebates for eBucks customers also apply for the A2.

Nieuwoudt says the announcement signals ambitious long-term plans to make FNB Connect a telco provider of choice for FNB customers. This is in line with what FNB CEO Jacques Celliers told ITWeb earlier this month, that the bank wants customers to start using FNB Connect as their primary SIM.

The first generation phones will still be available at discounted prices but Shadrack Palmer, chief commercial officer of FNB Connect, told journalists that the A1 is almost sold out. In addition, the bank today announced new data and voice packages for FNB Connect users.

Paula Gilbert
ITWeb telecoms editor.

Paula Gilbert is the Telecoms Editor at ITWeb. She is an award winning journalist covering telecoms, business, start-ups and new innovations in finance and mobile. She previously worked as a producer and reporter for business television channels Bloomberg TV Africa and CNBC Africa and started her career in radio. She has an Honours degree in Journalism from Rhodes University. Travel is always on Paula's mind, she has visited 30 countries so far and is currently researching her next adventure.