Standard Bank confirms South African MVNO launch

Following rumours earlier this year that Standard Bank had plans to launch an MVNO, the South African bank has finally confirmed the not so secret news.

In a conversation with both MyBroadband, Standard Bank confirmed the imminent launch of a South African MVNO, but didn’t have much more to add..Standard Bank, which has around 12 million retail customers for its financial services in South Africa, will join more than 10 MVNOs already operating in the market, as well as MNOs Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom.

After the launch, Standard Bank will become the second major bank in South Africa to launch a mobile virtual network operator following the steps of FNB, which launched an MVNO way back in 2015. Earlier this year, Stephen Bailey, former Virgin Mobile South CEO and now MVNO CEO at Standard Bank Group, attended the MVNOs World Congress where he took part in an onsite interview.

“MVNOs currently hold only about 1% of the South African markets,” said when asked about the local market. “The number of MVNOs coming to market has accelerated greatly in the last 12 to 18 months. We’ve seen financial services businesses come into the market. Two banks in South Africa are launching an MVNO. One has launched, and one is about to launch. That’s some interesting developments. I think that like in many other markets the MVNO market will probably take about 10% subscribers in the market.

“I’m very bullish about growth prospects in South Africa for MVNOs. It’s a relatively untouched model in our markets. I think, what’s interesting for us as South Africans is our close proximity to Sub-Saharan Africa. And in Sub-Saharan Africa there’s only, that I know of, two MVNOs in Kenya. There’s no MVNOs in West Africa and only two, as I said, in East Africa.

“Looking into the crystal ball is not so easy. In terms of what excites me most about what the opportunities coming up is I think the rollout of eSIM [which] is very exciting for MVNOs. As MVNOs we offer new niche offerings to our customers. I think eSIM just makes it much easier and less expensive to acquire those customers because there’s no need now to distribute a physical SIM to those customers. I think it offers a whole lot of opportunities in digital channels, direct customer and marketing opportunities. So that’s one of the things that I’m particularly excited about in the coming five years.”

You can see the full interview below.