First National Bank (FNB) this week unveiled the latest version of its app, which has a range of new features, including the ability to make contactless payments.

For now, only FNB customers with Android devices that are near-field-communication-enabled can use the contactless feature, called FNB Pay, which the bank describes as “the distinctive and pioneering feature” of the updated app.

A “contactless payment” is where customers make a payment without having to part with their cards and PINs; customers merely tap their cards.

FNB Pay is contactless payment via an app – customers using the app can make payments by tapping their phones on a contactless-enabled point-of-sale terminal. Transactions, however, are limited to R200.

Raj Makanjee, the chief executive of FNB Premium, says once a user has downloaded the latest version of the app, FNB Pay is automatically available and can be linked to any FNB card.

Makanjee says the timing for contactless technology in South Africa is “perfect”, because local merchants are gradually increasing contactless infrastructure.

“This is one of the reasons 100 percent of the new or replacement cards we are issuing are contactless cards. Not only does the functionality make it effortless for customers to pay for goods and services, it also helps merchants to process transactions far quicker, thus assisting in reducing queues.”

Another new feature of the app is Smart inContact, which allows clients to customise how they receive notifications from the bank. For example, you can determine when and how often you receive notifications of transactions on your accounts, and the value of these transactions.

Smart inContact also replaces SMSed one-time-passwords (OTPs) as a secure way to approve, reject or report fraud for any online banking transactions.

Log-ins from unknown or suspicious devices also trigger a Smart inContact notification for the customer to verify or reject the device, FNB says.

Customers without the latest version of the app will continue to receive SMS notifications and OTPs until they download or update to the latest version of the app.

The new app also features 1-touch Report Fraud, which enables you to report fraud via the app – at the touch of your smartphone’s screen.

Fingerprint ID, which is available to Android and iPhone owners, is another of the app’s new features, enabling customers to authenticate themselves using their phone’s fingerprint sensor. In other words, you use your fingerprint to access the app.

FNB clients who qualify for premier and private banking services will also be able to use Secure Chat to enquire about services or send instructions to their private banking support team, all done through the app after securely logging in.

Secure Chat gives customers 24/7 banking support without the risks of phishing or identity theft.

“All these features have enhanced the FNB banking app, from a functionality and, most importantly, from a security point of view. The growing active-user base and global accolades of the app attest to the compelling proposition of the platform. App 5.0 will go a long way towards improving customer experience, making banking easier, safer and convenient,” Makanjee says.

Jacques Celliers, FNB’s chief executive, says the bank views the app as a “gateway into the future of banking”.

The app gives customers more control over their accounts, better security and saves costs.