FNB discontinues tap-to-pay on Android

First National Bank (FNB) has officially terminated its contactless tap-to-pay feature for Android smartphone users, citing the influence of global digital wallet solutions such as Google Wallet as a driving factor in the decision. Jason Viljoen, the head of card digitization at FNB, that the advent and popularity of digital wallets like Google Wallet contributed to the strategic shift.

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Initially introduced in 2016 amid the buzz surrounding contactless payment methods, FNB’s tap-to-pay service followed the trend set by Apple Pay and Samsung Pay in the United States. However, as part of its evolving digital strategy, FNB is now prioritizing the streamlining of “in-app customer journeys” for Android users. Viljoen emphasized this by highlighting the integration of Google Wallet registration within the FNB app.

FNB encourages its customers to seamlessly add their virtual cards to the Google Wallet through the banking app. Viljoen explained the process, stating, “In the process of adding the card to Google Wallet, you will be prompted to change your default wallet on your device. Confirm the change of the default to Google Wallet and complete the process.”

The use of contactless payments has been on the rise among FNB customers, with over 50% of card payments being conducted through tap-to-pay in the previous year. Meanwhile, traditional chip and PIN payments have experienced a decline.

Google Wallet, in conjunction with Google Pay, officially debuted in South Africa in August 2022, providing support for cards from major local banks. This marked a significant enhancement for Android users, who were previously limited to using Google Pay solely for in-app and online purchases.

Unlike competing digital wallet apps like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Garmin Pay, and Fitbit Pay, Google Wallet enjoys broader accessibility on various smartphone models and devices, owing to its availability on many more platforms. This advantage is attributed to the prevalence of Google on a wide range of Android-powered devices.

Several South African banks, including Standard Bank, expressed enthusiasm about the launch of Google Wallet with Google Pay. Schalk Kotze, head of Standard Bank’s affluent, consumer, and high-net-worth division, highlighted the convenience and safety of Google Pay, stating that it would broaden access to tap payments in South Africa, particularly among the substantial Android user base.

Raj Makanjee, retail CEO at FNB, and Hylton Kallner, CEO at Discovery Bank, echoed the sentiment that millions of their respective bank’s customers stood to benefit from the introduction of Google Pay. Absa emphasized the enhanced safety features inherent in digital wallets like Google Wallet, citing advanced security measures such as 2-step verification and Find My Phone.