By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband
South Africa’s largest mobile virtual network operator, FNB Connect, has seen a big increase in customers over the past year.
FNB Connect CEO Bradwin Roper recently spoke to MyBroadband regarding the performance of the operator during 2020, and what its plans were for the year ahead.
According to Roper, FNB Connect had grown its true active subscribers by 22% year-on-year to 815,124 as of the end of December 2020. These customers had recorded financial or network activity in the last three months.
“Our Easy and our Gold account base – that’s our entry and our middle market customers – account for two-thirds of that base,” Roper stated.
The operator has further noted massive adoption and advocacy from higher-income customers – with a 37% increase in premium and 45% growth in its private customer base.
Roper said this was notable, as it indicated that even the most finicky, fussy, and particular customers were choosing FNB Connect as their telecoms providers.
He added that this had happened without the operator having to heavily market its benefits over other operators.
“These customers have organically found us and are using us,” Roper said.
Roper claimed that part of the MVNO’s growth could be attributed to its affordable pricing.
“We really have rung true to this concept of money management and how important telco spend is in households,” Roper said.
Products Roper cited as a testament to this the adoption of FNB Connect’s TalkMax and TalkMax Pro plans.
These let customers make unlimited calls to up to 120 or 200 unique phone numbers, for either R299 or R399 per month. They also include set allocations of data and SMSs.
“If you think about the incumbents and their relevant competing products, you are talking about thousands of rand for the same product offering,” Roper stated.
In addition, FNB Connect’s data prices performed well when compared with its rivals.
“Whatever benefits we’ve received, we’ve passed those benefits onto customers,” Roper said.
“We repriced our 1GB data package to R59 per month which arguably is about 40% cheaper than the rest of the market,” Roper stated.
“Our market leading once-off data prices are available to all Connect customers and not as promotional offers to certain customers like the MNOs do,” Roper added.
FNB Connect has also seen increasing usage of its value-added Free Connect benefit for FNB account holders, with a total of 715 million MB of data and 134 million voice minutes used to date.
Roper said that one area in which people underestimated FNB Connect was its capability to offer greater customer choice and flexibility, something which he wanted to continue driving.
“One month you need a gig of data, the other month you need five. It’s really impossible, and I think it’s very unfair, to get stuck into a 24-month contract,” Roper said.
“In order to get onto a top-up plan with a big incumbent, you have to be credit-scored, with ours you have the ability to change your allocations on a month-on-month basis,” he stated.
“We want to give you the full benefit of everything that a postpaid service gives you but on a month-to-month basis,” Roper said.
Roper said that this flexibility was one of the reasons why FNB Connect had also seen a surge in Top Up customers.
“Our Top Up base growth has been 57% year-on-year,” Roper said.
“Customers are really loving the fact that they can – on a month-to-month basis – figure out exactly how much data, voice, and SMSs they need and be able to top that up without the cumbersome going into a telco store and getting scored.”
“With us, you can do it on the app and have that SIM delivered to your home or your office or wherever you find yourself,” Roper stated.
Order FNB Connect devices from the app
FNB app users will soon be able to order FNB Connect devices straight from the app in a similar way that they can currently purchase other products.
At the moment, the app allows users to buy Prepaid, Talk Max Top Up, Top Up Data, and Top Up Lifestyle bundles under the Connect pillar of the “Apply now” section.
According to Roper, starting from June or July 2021 this will be expanded to allow for ordering a wide array of devices on FNB Connect postpaid and credit-scored products as well.
“That is going to be a massive disruption to the market,” Roper claimed.