First National Bank has  announced the launch of their brand new website and online banking portal, to launch on Sunday 14 July 2013. All 1.5 million internet banking customers in all African territories and India will all receive the update simultaneously.

As the new website will go live to all customers within an immediate time frame, FNB will leave their call centers open to a later time on Sunday afternoon. In addition, the financier been training their call center operators on the old and new platforms for a number of weeks. This allows for a point of reference in the old website to more effectively assist customers having minor quandaries with the change.

The new website has been more than two years in the making, incorporating current design trends and usability models. Lee-Anne van Zyl, FNB’s Online Banking CEO, and her team benchmarked the FNB website with banking websites across the globe to understand leading market practice in the banking industry.

Much emphasis was placed on the new website being the first scaleable website in Africa, meaning that the website will fit whatever screen the user happens to be viewing it on. This allows for deeper interaction with online banking than FNB’s apps across desktop and mobile devices.

The new website features a “flat” design methodology. This is in line with current design trends. Impressively, the designers have used colours to indicate good, bad and indifferent transaction notifications. This allows for quick feedback to the user and draws the user’s attention to the most pressing notifications first.

FNB, the current market leader in the online banking space in South Africa, has evolved the current experience for users from a spreadsheet type interface to a more accessible graphic interface. With this evolution it was asked if security has evolved with the change in user interaction. The answer to this was a strong “yes”, as phishing scams and the like are becoming more sophisticated. van Zyl stated that whatever the scam FNB is aware and working to subvert the swindlers.

As a result FNB has sent out one email in conjunction with a text message. Both of which do not link to the FNB online banking portal, as is common practice among financial institutions.

Van Zyl and her team have also ensured that all FNB customers, from personal banking through to corporate accounts with multiple users, will be operating on the new system come Sunday afternoon. The overall impression that van Zyl and her team gave was that they know and understand the space they are working in extremely well. They had a clean strategy and they implemented it with a clear vision in mind from start to finish.

It will be interesting to see how the industry responds. If one looks at how long it took the competition to respond to FNB’s step in 2009 to release a banking app, it is highly unlikely the competition will be making an announcements soon.

Brendon Ambrose – Managing Editor | About Me – Consultant at Strategy Worx a technology consulting firm in South Africa, WITS Commerce Graduate and a law student; Started Writing Tech: 2005 for; Favorite cereal: Frosties; Find me on: Twitter & Facebook