Orange aims to shake up French banking industry - Mobile World Live

Orange aims to shake up French banking industry

31 MAY 2017

With just five weeks to go until the launch of its ‘mobile-first’ banking service in France, Orange revealed some of the services it plans to offer amid an objective of hitting breakeven within five years.

Speaking at a media event in Paris yesterday, Orange delegate CEO in charge of Finance and Strategy, Ramon Fernandez, noted there is “huge enthusiasm” within the company around the potential of Orange Bank and its suite of banking services available through smartphones. The service is set for a 6 July launch in the operator’s home market and is the result of Orange taking a controlling stake in Groupama Banque in October 2016.

With mobile payment, current account, savings and transfer services expected to be available at launch, Fernandez said the operator is looking to offer consumer credit (for example, personal loans) “within weeks or months.” From 2018, mortgage loans and insurance products will be added to the offering: “Eventually you’ll have all the services you can get today from a traditional bank,” he enthused.

Fernandez also put a timeframe on its previously stated ambition of hitting 2 million customers, with the company aiming to achieve the goal in six to seven years (by comparison, France’s largest online banks, ING Direct and SocGen’s Boursorama, currently have around 1 million clients each). According to GSMA Intelligence, Orange boasts approximately 30 million connections in France (including cellular M2M).

The Orange executive (pictured, left) will play a key role in developing Orange Bank, having been appointed president of the bank’s board (in addition to his Orange delegate CEO role).

Fernandez didn’t reveal specific revenue targets for the service, but reiterated the group’s intent to generate an additional €400 million a year in revenue from mobile financial services by 2018 (in fact, Fernandez suggested this figure could be surpassed thanks to the success of Orange Money, the company’s financial service offering in Africa, which is growing revenues 50 per cent annually and last year hit €150 million turnover).

“We were expecting to have €200 million from Orange Money in 2018, it will be more than that,” he revealed.

Also included in its mobile financial service outlook is Orange Finanse in Poland, Orange’s first banking initiative launched in 2014. It includes banking services such as consumer loans and savings and is the result of a partnership with Poland’s mBank.

Critical strategy
Fernandez is clearly passionate about the company’s banking growth (future rollouts in Europe have previously been mooted, particularly in Belgium and Spain), calling it “a critical part of our story in the future.”

He claims a telecom operator has what it takes to establish itself as a major player in the finance space: “The banking industry is being disrupted by the digital industry,” he commented, adding Orange brings “a very strong brand” which customers will trust, and a nationwide footprint of 140 retail outlets with more than 800 staff who will be trained to offer in-branch banking (AI-powered virtual advisors will also be available online, thanks to a partnership with IBM’s Watson).

With Orange’s strategy in Europe having a strong focus on convergence and a quadplay offering, Fernandez even quipped “maybe the bank, at some point, will be the fifth play.”

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Justin Springham

Justin manages the editorial content for the Mobile World Live portal and award-winning Mobile World Live TV service. In the last few years Justin has launched and grown a portfolio of premier media products, which include the Mobile World Congress...

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