In welcoming 91 countries to Durban, Ramaphosa has stressed the importance of bridging the digital divide to create an inclusive society. This builds on the theme of Nelson Mandela’s speech at Africa’s first ITU in Geneva during 1995 when he said that telecommunications can help developing countries become “information rich”. Ramaphosa also hopes that the 4th Industrial Revolution will be built on three key pillars of sustainable development; woman entrepreneurship, SMMEs and opportunities for young people. This vision aligns with FNB’s intent as an innovative financial services company who wants to help create a better world using its customer centric banking platform. As a co-sponsor of ITU 2018, FNB is joining with government and other organisations to showcase South Africa as a key information communications technology country in Africa.
Ramaphosa also expects that as we develop new communication technologies they must be shared; government and industry must collaborate with the communities they are required to serve. He acknowledged that South Africa has missed previous revolutions; 20m South Africans still do not have access to the internet despite 87% of households having access to mobile phones. The South African president is however proud that in the last few weeks his government has decided to accelerate the licensing of radio spectrum to hasten the rollout of mobile communications. Such consultative and innovative regulation to stimulate growth and competition “is how we do things in South Africa” and he also announced that ICASA is actively licensing high demand spectrum; to much applause he said “I have had a taste of 5G and it is fantastic”.
FNB has grown exponentially in the telco sector since it launched a mobile virtual network which aims to remove the “last mile” barrier of mobile banking for customers. It has also made a strategic step from SIM card to device; the bank’s affordable smart phone offering extends its already successful mobile strategy. FNB is the first bank in South Africa to run a mobile network and now also offers its own branded smart phones to low end consumers who now have easy access to innovative digital banking platforms. Over a million people use FNB SIMs who can also customise value bundles of voice, data and SMS solutions. It’s part of a carefully managed process of mass market customer migration from popping in to a branch, to logging in from anywhere. Even phoning the bank’s call centres won’t cost anything for FNB Connect customers who can now also take advantage of unlimited calls, such benefits are putting extra money back in their wallets, next to their new FNB smart phone.
The race for digital disruption in South Africa is a win for consumers, of whom there will be 500 million with smart phones in their pockets in Sub Saharan Africa over the next few years. This digitised and connected population is growing faster than in many developed economies, becoming a driver of economic growth for progressive countries seeking to take advantage of the 4th Industrial Revolution; the telco banking playoff in South Africa will excite industry spectators at ITU 2018. FNB’s value for money offering across network, device and self-service platforms moves it firmly into the lead in the race for the customer-centric digital banking ecosystem. This year’s ITU conference in Durban also firmly establishes South Africa as a leading information and communications technology provider on the continent.