Absa’s Apple Watch app: “The smallest thing in banking”

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Despite the Apple Watch not yet being available via official channels in South Africa, Absa Bank has launched an Apple Watch app that allows customers to view their account balances and account limits. In doing so, it’s pipped rival Standard Bank to the post. Standard Bank announced in June that it is testing its own Apple Watch app, which will be available to customers in September.

Absa parent company Barclays is currently running its own smartwatch app trial in the UK and Absa says its app is modelled on Barclays. While the Barclays app is also limited to checking balances at this stage, it’s also available for Android-powered smartwatches including the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live and Moto 360 and not just the Apple Watch. No such luck for South African Android fans, sadly.

Absa Apple Watch appIn a statement announcing the app launch, Absa says the service will be “iteratively enhanced on an ongoing basis”. Which is comforting, because we have to wonder how much value the average user will get from being able to see how much (or little) money they have with a glance at their wrist. It does, however, give users another excuse to show off the Apple Watch to friends and colleagues, of course.

To promote the announcement Absa commissioned Cape Town-based miniaturist Lorraine Loots to create an animated video with the peculiar tagline, “The smallest thing in banking: 2015”. We see what you did there, Absa, but we can’t help feeling you’ve taken the words right out of our mouths.

There’s still no word from Core Group, which the distributes Apple products in South Africa, as to when the Apple Watch will be available locally. At this rate, we may only see the second version of the device, which is expected to be announced before the end of the year.

As much as we like cutting-edge tech, we can’t say we’re particularly perturbed at this prospect given the problems and failings many first generation devices have, the bulk of which tend to be resolved on the second outing. Anyone remember the curved-backed GPS-less first iPad?

Of course, for those who can’t wait, the Apple Watch is available as a grey import from various online retailers or from online auction sites and the like courtesy of opportunistic resellers who’ve bought them abroad and snaffled them back into South Africa in their luggage.

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