Orange’s push into adjacent markets received a blow with news its online banking service will be delayed, as it was also reported the company decided against a smart meter acquisition.

Orange Bank
In an emailed statement to Mobile World Live, the France-based operator said Orange Bank will be now be launched after the summer, because tests carried out with employees since May did not meet “the standards and criteria of excellence in terms of quality and reliability”.

The service was meant to launch on 6 July in the operator’s home market.

Its CEO, Stephane Richard, therefore decided to extend the test phase and postpone the commercial launch.

“We aim to launch a high-quality, innovative product for our customers and we will take the time necessary to ensure that these expectations are met,” the statement said.

Last month, 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.

Fernandez said the company hope to hit 2 million customers in six to seven years.

However, Reuters quoted CFE-CGC trade union official Sebastien Crozier as saying that it provided feedback “to signal many incidents related to the quality of the user interface and the customer service”.

The report also said investors are wary of the potential of the service as the French banking sector is dominated by big players like BNP Paribas and Societe Generale.

The service is the result of Orange taking a controlling stake in Groupama Banque in October 2016.

Smart meters
Orange also considered acquiring German metering company Ista International, and although it eventually decided not to make an offer, it does indicate the firm’s hunger to go beyond its core business.

Orange held discussions with Ista’s majority owner CVC Capital to buy the company, which could fetch as much as €5 billion euros including debt, Bloomberg reported.

Ista’s website said it specialises in the recording, billing, visualisation and management of heat, water and gas in 25 countries and had sales of €850.4 million euros from about 12 million customers last year.

The company could have complemented Orange’s smart products that use its network to offer power management, surveillance and reception services in buildings.