FNB, PayPal caught with their pants down
It seems likely that PayPal will finally arrive on South African shores in April thanks to the efforts of FNB. News leaked through a Moneyweb reader comment and was quickly picked up by Twitter users and then by members of the media (who mostly missed the original reader comment on Moneyweb, including, surprisingly, Moneyweb itself).
With PayPal you can shop online without having to reveal your credit card details, and SMMEs use it to great effect on the ecommerce front. It was a definite disadvantage for small South African businesses that local consumers did not have access to the system.
According to Times Live FNB is yet to confirm its proposed tie-up with PayPal. Declining to comment usually serves as a form of confirmation in my experience. The fact that FNB doesn’t seem to have a PR strategy to deal with the leak doesn’t speak well of their communications team though.
If a story breaks before you were ready for it to be public knowledge you can either try to manage or steer the message or through your arms up in the air and scream at the roof. FNB seemed to opt for the latter.
PayPal, being a global player, would surely do better. I contacted the PayPal media office to request confirmation on news that they would be launching in South Africa. While courteous the essence of their reply read as follows: “At this time, I don’t have further information to share with you about PayPal in South Africa.”
So nobody is steering the message at this stage. In PR world it’s a mess.
Update: FNB confirms talks with PayPal to Moneyweb. [Edited on Feb 10, 2010, at 18:09]