Orange to launch mobile-only bank in 2017

Telco to open mobile-only bank in France in early 2017 with other European markets to follow.
Orange is working on a plan to launch a mobile-only bank in France in as little as 12 months as part of its quest to tap diverse revenue streams.

The telecoms group on Monday announced that it is holding exclusive talks with Groupama that could lead to it acquiring a 65% stake in the insurance firm's banking arm Groupama Banque.

Such a deal would provide Orange with an existing infrastructure on which to base its banking offer, including an online channel and network of high street branches, that would complement Orange's own distribution network, brand and customer base.

Orange said it plans to launch Orange Bank in France at the start of 2017, followed by other European markets at a later date; it suggested Spain and Belgium as possible candidates. The bank will provide all standard banking services, in addition to savings, loans and insurance.

"Orange benefits from a unique combination of essential assets that will enable it to successfully launch a highly innovative, 100% mobile bank," said Orange CEO Stéphane Richard, in a statement.

The announcement comes less than a year after Richard presented Orange's Essentials 2020 five-year strategy in Paris, when he disclosed that the telco aims to generate €1 billion in revenue from new services in 2018, of which €400 million will come from financial services. The telco expects to generate half of that €400 million in Europe and half in the Middle East and Africa.

On Monday Richard talked up Orange's "legitimacy in the world of financial services," noting that it has enjoyed success with its Orange Money service in the Middle East and Africa and Orange Finanse in Poland.

"Our partnership with Groupama, which has recognised expertise and key assets in the areas of both banking and insurance, will enable us to accelerate the implementation of our strategic ambition to be able to offer our customers Orange Bank services in France from the beginning of 2017," Richard said.