South Africa’s Standard Bank is building a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Techcentral reported citing well-placed industry sources. The bank has hired former Virgin Mobile South Africa CEO Steve Bailey to its executive team and is also aggressively hiring people with telecom skills. If it goes ahead with the MVNO, Standard Bank will be the second big retail bank in South Africa to launch a virtual operator following the introduction of FNB Connect in 2015.
The launch marks an about-turn from the bank’s previous views about launching an MVNO. A bank spokesperson declined to comment on the news. Bailey, whose LinkedIn profile shows he joined Standard Bank late last year, also declined to comment. Before joining Standard Bank, Bailey was CEO of MVN-X, a virtual mobile “enablement” company that launched MVNOs such as Price Mobile, X Mobile, Smart Mobile and Me&You Mobile. He was CEO of Virgin Mobile South Africa between 2008 and 2012 and before that was chief customer operations officer at Cell C.
MVNOs piggyback on existing networks’ infrastructure, but typically provide their own backend billing and customer support. FNB uses Cell C’s network. Other MVNOs include Virgin Mobile and Price Mobile.