Orange chief executive Stephane Richard (pictured) announced a range of new digital services and products, including a move into the ‘connected home’ and a bigger push into mobile money, adding that the industry was at the “dawn of the era of connected objects”.
Speaking at the operator’s ‘Hello Show’ in Paris, Richard said ‘Homelive’, the operator’s connected home service, would be launched in France on 23 October. Charged at €9.99 per month, users can select a range of intelligent sensors and connected devices (from Orange partners) to monitor remotely the likes of thermostats, light switches and smoke detectors from their smartphones and tablets.
Meanwhile Orange is to commercially launch Mobile Connect in Q1 2015. A SIM-based authentication solution (and a GSMA initiative), Mobile Connect allows customers to use their mobile phones to log-on and access digital services. It uses an API incorporated into partner internet sites, which means customers only need to click on the Mobile Connect for ID purposes. “This is 100 per cent secure,” said Richard.
Orange is also enhancing its Orange Money transfer service with a ‘cash-to-goods’ feature provided in partnership with Afrimarket, a start-up. It means users can transfer money from Europe to a partner retailer in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Togo or Benin. Orange pitches this as a straightforward, instant and risk-free system to pay for groceries for parents, say, or school supplies for relatives and so on.
In Poland, Orange has started to roll out a mobile banking service, while the operator’s mobile payment offer – Orange Cash – is being pushed out to three more towns in France: Nice, Lille and Rennes. Orange Cash, in partnership with Visa Europe, allows NFC payments regardless of the user’s bank.
With repeated emphasis on digital innovation and collaboration, Richard is clearly stepping up efforts in trying to re-position the Orange brand to mean more than simply fixed and mobile connectivity in the eyes of consumers.
As part of that push, the Polaris project was unveiled. It provides a new and unified interface for every screen in the home to access services. Once you start watching a film or series on the TV, for example, it’s possible to pick up where you left off through the tablet or smartphone.
Another innovation is ‘Homepoint’, to be launched in France before the end of 2014, which is not only a multimedia hub but can also give family guests easy Wi-Fi access through a short pin number.
Orange ’boutiques’ (retail stores) have also been redesigned to show off innovation in three themed areas: home, office and entertainment. The new concept stores will be opened first this year in Poland, Spain and Romania, followed by France in 2015.