Stan­dard Bank en­ters lu­cra­tive cell­phone mar­ket

The Star Early Edition - - METRO - KABELO KHU­MALO

STAN­DARD Bank re­cently an­nounced its foray into the lu­cra­tive air­time and data mar­ket with the launch of its mo­bile vir­tual net­work op­er­a­tor (MVNO) ser­vice, Stan­dard Bank Mo­bile (SB Mo­bile).

The bank said it would be us­ing wire­less ca­pac­ity from mo­bile oper­a­tors Cell C and MTN and would al­low its cus­tomers to con­vert bank charges into air­time or data.

Africa’s big­gest bank by as­sets also said it would pro­vide hand­sets in the first quar­ter of next year and add broad­band ser­vices such as LTE and fi­bre af­ter­wards. The MVNO ser­vice will pro­vide a branded SIM card with a new num­ber while ex­ist­ing cell num­bers can also be re­tained.

Funeka Mon­t­jane, chief ex­ec­u­tive for Stan­dard Bank Per­sonal and Busi­ness Bank­ing SA, said while the com­pany had no in­ten­tion of be­ing a tele­coms firm, it saw a true op­por­tu­nity in the con­ver­gence of tele­coms with fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

“As Stan­dard Bank em­barks on an ex­ten­sive digi­ti­sa­tion drive, mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion has be­come a key fea­ture in mod­ern fi­nan­cial ser­vices. It’s im­pos­si­ble to sep­a­rate your phone from your credit card, in­sur­ance or abil­ity to trans­fer funds across bor­ders,” Mon­t­jane said.

The launch of an MNVO comes just two years after the bank ruled out com­pet­ing in that space.

SB Mo­bile would also ben­e­fit from Cell C’s re­cently con­cluded roam­ing agree­ment with MTN.

Lead­ing banks have in the past decade recog­nised that the next level of in­no­va­tion is cen­tred on the cus­tomer rather than a com­pet­i­tive arms race.

The en­try of dig­i­tal savvy Dis­cov­ery Bank, TymeBank and Bank Zero have also shaken up South Africa’s bank­ing sec­tor.

Asief Mo­hamed, the chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer at Aeon In­vest­ment Man­age­ment, said Stan­dard Bank was re­spond­ing to in­creased com­pe­ti­tion in the MVNO space.

“The fact that they are do­ing it with Cell C is good news for the op­er­a­tor as that presents it with a new rev­enue stream,” Mo­hamed said.

The As­so­ci­a­tion of Black Se­cu­ri­ties and In­vest­ment Pro­fes­sion­als this week pre­sented its sub­mis­sions on the Elec­tronic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Amend­ment Bill.

Mo­hamed, who made the pre­sen­ta­tion on be­half of the as­so­ci­a­tion, said: “Manda­tory sales of only dual SIM card us­age phones on a sin­gle mo­bile phone must be leg­is­lated so as to pro­mote com­pe­ti­tion and by im­pli­ca­tion will… re­duce voice and data prices to con­sumers.”

In June 2015, FNB be­came the first bank in South Africa to launch an MVNO through a part­ner­ship with Cell C. It said this year its net­work had reached more than 500 000 sub­scribers in the coun­try.

Other MVNOs in­clude Vir­gin Mo­bile and Mr Price Mo­bile.

SB Mo­bile chief ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Bai­ley said it was of­fer­ing some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent, which will re­ward cus­tomers with free air­time and data for do­ing some­thing they do ev­ery day.

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