Standard Bank allows customers to convert bank charges into airtime or data

In a further development of its position as an integrated financial services organization offering exceptional value, Standard Bank is entering the market and data market with the first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service, Standard Bank Mobile.

Standard Bank will provide wireless communications services under its own brand - SB Mobile - and will use Cell C and MTN.

With the MVNO space fiercely competitive in SA at the time, Stephen Bailey Standard Bank Mobile CEO, says SB Mobile is offering something totally different: an integrated (rather than a stand-alone) service, which rewards customers with free data and data for doing something they do every day - bank Customers also earn money every time they use their credit, check or debit cards. We have also done away with data bundles, customers can select the data price that suits them, with no expiry. Data pricing is from 5 c per mb.

Pricing relief comes as consumers face immense pressure from high data costs and general increases in goods in the wake of a rise in VAT this year. Communication costs are as low as an SB Mobile client receives a free account and data based on their specific account.

Funeka Montjane, CE for Standard Bank Personal and Business Banking South Africa says: "We are not launching a new mobile network. We are expanding our digital offering to our clients. As standard bank embarks on an extensive digitization drive, mobile communication has become a key feature in modern financial services. It's impossible to separate your phone, credit card, insurance or ability to transfer funds across borders. SB Mobile is an extension of our digital offering. "

"Expiring data bundles are a thing of the past, customers can choose data pricing that is most relevant to them, they can simply add it to their monthly subscription and will then be rewarded the more they transact." Explains Montjane.

Doing banking should not be seen as a bargain purchase and Standard Bank's commitment extends to provide value-added services to a broader section of society that traditionally saw banking as too expensive.

Signed up customers to SB Mobile will not be subject to any airtime or data. Rewards are tiered so that every time they are transacted they get something back - 1MB or data is given for every R10 spent on all transaction cards, for instance, at a monthly fee of R39. Youth and inclusive banking clients will pay no fee, however.

Tiers are based on Elite (R105 free airtime), Prestige (R205), private and professional (R369) and Wealth & Signature (R469 in free airtime). All credit card transactions signed SB Mobile clients qualify for 1MB for every R10 and R100 free airtime for the R39 monthly fee.

Standard Bank - the largest bank by assets in Africa and a leader in digital banking innovation across the continent - has no intention of becoming a telecommunications company, however. It is the true opportunity in the convergence of telecoms with financial services.

"We are widening the digital banking experience for customers in the organization and our intention is to improve the value they receive. We are combining free voice and data with cutting edge financial services to deliver exceptional banking experiences and value, "says Montjane.

While Cell C is the network operator currently in use, the bank remains open to other network providers in the future as it expands and adds.

SB Mobile plans to provide handsets in the first quarter of the year as well as broadband services - like fixed LTE and fiber - shortly afterwards. The current service will provide a new number, while existing cell numbers can also be retained.

"We are offering the next level of connectivity based on a customer wants to make. In the new digital world people are expectations and customers are demanding more personalized, reliable products and services. Standard Bank is committed to delivering real value to people lives and we have determined that their choice of service provider is based on value for money and service quality, "says Bailey.

We are constantly seeking ways in which to start and grow with our customers, which is the primary reason for launching this service. Our customers are at the heart of what we do at Standard Bank, "concludes Montjane.