capitec
Capitec has quietly launched its new app. (Andrew Thompson, Business Insider)
  • Capitec has quietly launched a brand new version of its smartphone app.
  • We tried it, and we were impressed by how well the bank has moved from no-nonsense text to something better looking but still user-friendly.
  • The snazzy new app joins a new look for cards that are strangely reminiscent of a new competitor.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

This article has been updated below.

Capitec has released an entirely new banking app, the first major upgrade to the application since the now-massive bank launched in the early 2000s. And although the bank teased the release earlier this year, it has not yet actively alerted all existing clients to the update.

At its launch, Capitec’s business model prioritised function over appearance, with both the site and app offering simplistic interfaces that drew mixed reviews from users. But it has slowly started to evolve its look and feel, most notably with the rollout of new contactless cards, and now the launch of the fully redesigned app.

The old app received mediocre reviews on both the Android and Apple stores, with users often frustrated by cumbersome registration methods, downtime, bugs, and limited functionality. 

Now, facing competition from new image-conscious brands such as Discovery Bank, Capitec has a smartphone presence that looks a lot more modern.

Capitec says the old app will still function for now, but it will cease to function as soon as the new one is activated. It is available from both the Google Play and Apple App Store now.

Registration is now painless, as long as you have a verified email address

Unlike early iterations of the banking application, registration did not require us to visit a branch for activation, Business Insider South Africa's testing showed. This might not be the case for all users though; Capitec warns that those who have not verified their email addresses will still need to visit a branch.

Capitec
(Andrew Thompson, Business Insider)

For those who have, the bank uses a combination of SMS and email verification to link details and transfer data to the new app. It was even able to detect a (legitimate) SIM swap since last registration, that it alerted us to via email.

In all, the registration process took less than five minutes, and granted easy access to the new app. 

As soon as the new app was active on our phone, the old one ceased to function, as per Capitec’s warning. But all previous beneficiaries and transaction history were seamlessly transferred across to the new app.

The new banking app experience is immediately more user-friendly and modern than the old.

Gone is the simplistic, text-based menu that required several taps to reach your various bank accounts. In its place is a home screen that’s logical and visually pleasing, with customisable icon shortcuts to several frequently-used banking functions such as buying prepaid airtime and electricity, paying beneficiaries, or transferring money. Previously, these were frustratingly buried several taps away from the home screen.

There’s also a shortcut on the home screen to add new Capitec products to your portfolio, including opening new savings accounts, a funeral plan, and applying for a credit card.

Capitec
(Andrew Thompson, Business Insider)

The new Track Money function also has a place on the main navigation. This is a feature Capitec tested in a paired-down manner in earlier versions of the application, but has expanded in the new app. 

Track Money allows users to easily separate statements into incoming and outgoing cash, and it automatically categorises expenses to see how much you’re spending on what, much like financial app 22Seven. 

At a glance users can see where most of their money is going, with the app assigning automatic categories for things like food, insurance, transport, and entertainment. Items that the bank can’t identify go into a separate area, where users can categorise them manually, and presumably help the machine to learn for future appearances from the same store.

Capitec
(Andrew Thompson, Business Insider)

There is also an option to manage all cards linked to the app, including instantly updating limits, activating or deactivating tap to pay functionality, and stopping the card altogether.

The new version still suffers from mixed reviews

In spite of the relatively quiet rollout in late October, there have already been dozens of ratings and reviews on the respective app stores, many of which reported bugs and other issues in the days after the launch. 

Most of these bugs appear to have affected Android users, with the iOS experience seemingly much more hassle-free.

Across 151 ratings on theGoogle Play store, the app has a rating of 2.7 out of 5. Most negative reviews relate to teething issues, that Capitec says they are either aware of or have resolved. 

One user acknowledged the need for the visual updates, but praised the old app for being “functional with no drama”.

The AppleApp Store rating is considerably better - at 4.1 out of 5 from 56 ratings. Users on the App Store praise the new design as a “massive improvement”.

The launch of the new app coincides with the staggered rollout of new black, contactless, vertical cards, doing away with the traditional gold micro-chip cards that have been in place since Capitec's launch.

The new cards – which look remarkably similar to Discovery Bank’s – are being rolled out  in stages, starting in the Western Cape, at a cost of R65 each.

Update: Capitec says its new cards are now available countrywide.

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