FNB pulls plug on Windows phones

First National Bank will no longer actively develop its application for Windows-powered smartphones, it said on Thursday.

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First National Bank will no longer actively develop its application for Windows-powered smartphones, it said on Thursday. It has also pulled the plug on development of its app for older BlackBerry devices.

Although FNB said it has no intention of removing the apps from these platforms’ respective app stores, the company said that it has decided not to release the latest version of its software — which runs on Android, iOS and BlackBerry 10 — on Windows phones and BlackBerry 7 devices because of a lack of consumer demand.

No further development is planned for the two platforms.

News of FNB’s decision to pull the plug on development of its Windows app comes as new research from Gartner on Thursday shows that Windows’ share of the global smartphone market slumped to just 1,1% at the end of December last year, down from 2,8% a year earlier. There has even been talk in recent weeks that Microsoft could abandon Windows on smartphones in favour of Android.

Although FNB will still make the older versions of its Windows and BlackBerry apps available, it will instead start to push clients using those platforms to its mobile website.

FNB first released an app for Windows Phone 8 back in 2013.

The bank blamed lack of customer demand for the decision to no longer actively develop its apps for the Windows and legacy BlackBerry phones. It said Android is the most popular platform among its customers, accounting for about half of app usage. Apple’s iOS is in second place.

It said it remains committed to BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry’s newer smartphone operating system, which it said is “bigger than Windows” among its client base.

Omni-channel experience

FNB users on Android, iOS and BB10 will have noticed this week that the bank has redeveloped its apps (along with its online banking service) to create a common user experience across devices and platforms that it calls an “omni-channel experience”.

Sahil Mungar, head of marketing at FNB digital banking, said it has built a horizontal platform that allows it to deliver unified content and functionality across all of its digital channels.

The bank intends opening an application programming interface (API) to partners wanting to develop apps for the platform. “At this stage, it won’t be a free for all,” said Mungar. “We are working with various retailers and other external partners that FNB already has relationships with.”

He said no decision has been made about whether to expose APIs to the wider developer community. It may happen later, however.

The idea of the platform, he said, is to create a foundation for both internal and external financial technology, or fintech, innovation.

“Our internal and external partners can form a team, create something innovative, and have this exposed to customers via our channels,” Mungar said. “This will continue to evolve and we’ve only taken the first steps toward fully exploiting geo-awareness and big data technology in a contextual way.”

The bank has also launched a new Business Directory, allowing consumers to connect with service and product providers through FNB’s digital channels.

When used on mobile, customers can find businesses that are geographically near to them that are able to fulfil their requirements. In the future, this will be extended to instant scheduling, booking and community-driven reviews, effectively creating a community-driven marketplace, FNB said.

FNB Business customers are able to market their business through the FNB app and through online banking.  — © 2016 NewsCentral Media

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  • Maybe they can spend more time on supporting Touch ID on iOS now. Waiting since 2013.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Interesting. The takeaway I get from this is that it’s the higher LSM groups that are using the online banking platform, but it’d be the lower income people that would benefit most from using it.

  • They said that’s coming soon.

  • John Paterson

    Some Android phones have a compromised touch-ID system, which opens vulnerabilities. They don’t want different functionality across supported apps, so making sure these security flaws are addressed is probably important.

  • Lise

    I love my Lumia – it will be a sad day when/if Microsoft discontinues the line.

  • Rooikop

    Lumia the best phone I ever had.

  • mp

    Microsoft needs to do a better job of publicizing their universal apps – write it once and it can be ported to every single windows 10 (phone, tablet, pc, refrigerator, etc…). and can be easily ported to ios and android. one source code for nearly every ‘thing’ in the world – how can you beat that?

  • Ofentse Letsholo

    That’s just plain stupid.

  • gamesbook

    The same way all their code runs “seamlessly” on Linux already?!

  • When apps (fnb and standard bank apps included) provide no real advantage over a good responsive website (not that they get that right either) what’s the point of all the effort anyway? Its not like you can use them off-line to do anything useful.
    So we all have to live with these half-baked experiences because the IT departments of the bank are trying to minimise their effort.
    How about getting to grips with the reality of a multi-platform future? As mentioned in other posts (ironically) Microsoft looks to be the best bet to achieve this, especially as they’re not in a position to defend a closed system as with Apple and Google.

  • That Guy Jon

    This App obsession is ridiculous. Use a website damnit!

  • bravosewe

    all their code? what code… I assume your talking iOS and Andriod apps. which is most probably not the same code. Unless they use something like Xamarin which then should anyway be no problem supporting windows os anyway. Or if you mean andriod and traditional linux they could be using Java which is only a runtime which can run on windows x86 platforms – but unfortunately not on ARM platforms.

  • gamesbook

    That was meant to be tongue-in-cheek sarcastic. I’d be happier not have their code on the OS I use, if possible, but fortunately there does not seem to be any likelihood of that happening soon.

  • gamesbook

    I am not sure I would call Google’s system “closed” – not in the same way that Apple’s is. And Google – to some extent, anyway – makes an effort to have its software run multi-OS which is more than both Apple and Microsoft care to do.

  • Arthur Williamson

    I think one has to get a bit more granular before getting angry. The headline is misleading – it has “phones” in lowercase, and that may not be true at all.

    There’s a difference between Windows Phone and Windows phones. The former is a specific operating system; the latter is just a device, and it covers WP7, WP8.x, and Win10 phones (which are very much alive).

    The current FNB WP (Windows Phone) app is specifically for Windows Phone 8.x. That is over, done, finished.

    The future is Win 10. And its instantiation on phones is not called Windows Phone.

    However, FNB might well make a Universal app for Windows 10, and that’ll run on anything with Windows 10 – desktops, tablets, mobiles/phones, Xbox, Holo Lens, etc. They’d be stupid not to make a single version that runs on any Win10 device.
    Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps run on Win10, including Win 10 Mobile.

    I’m expecting a UWP app from FNB, and it’ll run just fine on Windows desktops and Windows phones. (It won’t run on Windows Phone (the OS), but it doesn’t need to as Windows Phone users already have an FNB app.)

    All this confusion for want of a capital letter. Let’s wait and see how FNB clarifies this.

  • There has been a concerted effort by Google over time to move functionality from Android core to Google Play Services. This is understandable as they are building an ecosystem rather than a platform and suits most users. However, the idea of an open platform (ala Linux) is long gone.
    Also not true re Microsoft and multi-OS. The entire thrust of .Net core is the ability to write code that runs on multiple devices and OS’s. Microsoft is rapidly moving .Net into open source and support .Net Core on Linux, OS X and Windows.

  • LuminaSS

    Almost bought me a windows phone this week, good I did not. I need a quick loan from FNB urgently, will buy me a android phone today.

  • tomcatcpt

    I think somebody showed them stale stats. The “rumor” mentioned was posted in June 2015…and its just a rumor. Its also wrong to make regarding a local app on global stats. According to Vodacom (recent article on MyBroadBand), Windows Phone has 5% of the market share and iOS 7%, not far off from each other.
    To tell the truth tho, the FNB Windows Phone app was functional, but poorly designed, so I think there are other reasons they ditched the platform. I’m a windows phone developer and I know how difficult it is to find good windows phone developers in SA. All the devs are chasing Android (for obvious reasons of pure marketshare)

  • tomcatcpt

    Have to agree there Alan, Microsoft are moving into extremely exciting territory.

  • tomcatcpt

    Well said, I fully agree. UWP on Windows 10 is making a lot more sense than the Universal apps on Windows/Phone 8

  • The Spark

    Windows 7/8/10 are the most horrendously bad touch OSes I have ever had the displeasure of using.

    Wasted money on a 10″ Windows tablet. I haven’t used it for more than about 8 hours.

    Terrible. Terrible. Terrible.

    Die. Die. Die.

  • Andrew Fraser

    The 7% volume share of iOS devices is misleading if you’re a business looking for valuable customers. There is no question that the average iOS users, given the high price of the handsets is significantly more affluent than the average WP user (majority of WP handset sales are low end Lumia 520, 525 etc.). So it is probably a good business decision to grandfather the WP app, and to focus on iOS (value) and Android (volume).

  • tomcatcpt

    I totally agree with you that the iPhone user is more likely to be way more affluent than the Windows Phone user. But are you saying that FNB should focus their attention on the richer people and forget about the poorer people? I would think the richer people have multiple devices (work pc, ipad and phone) to do internet banking but poorer people probably only have their phone as their banking platform. So now you want to remove their only rich user experience from them and focus mainly on the rich people? Doesn’t make sense.

  • Andrew Fraser

    That simply isn’t true – that functionality is available via mobile web. I’m saying that it it simply isn’t worth FNB employing their resources to build and maintain native apps for WP and BB for less than 10% of the population, where that 10% is not a good source of revenue for the bank. The return on investment simply isn’t worth it.

  • tomcatcpt

    Yes, there are mobile web apps. But if you’re going to spend money on a developer wrestling with under powered browser in BB and the non standards compliant IE 9 in windows phone, then you may as well get the job done right and hire a native developer. Then of course there’s Xamarin (not an HTML wrapper like phonegap), one team, write once deploy natively to all 4 major platforms. But point taken, thanks for the debate Andrew. Window’s presence is simply not that strong in SA, but it seems to be hanging in there.

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