Orange, the French telecom company, is gearing up to launch an online banking service in an effort to diversify its revenue.
According to news from Reuters, the company plans on launching the online banking service on Nov. 2. Originally, the company aimed to unveil the new bank back in July but delayed the launch to extend and broaden the number of people who were testing it, reported Reuters.
“The commercial launch will take place on Nov. 2,” a Orange spokesman told Reuters, confirming a report by La Tribune, a French newspaper. Reuters commented that Orange’s move displays the fierce competition in the retail financial sector, in which mobile telecom players have been witnessing more smartphone owners reducing their use of traditional banks, which has prompted their interest in online banks. They also see it as an opportunity to compete against traditional lenders, noted the report.
With Orange’s new online banking platform, customers will be able to access an instant, secure mobile payment service and a free debit card. Users can transfer money through a text message to individuals that also have an Orange account.
Orange Bank has a goal to bring on two million customers in 10 years and break even on the business in four or five years, reported Reuters. Telecoms rival Altice, which is the owner of the country’s second largest network operator, is eyeing the online banking market as well and has plans to launch its own service by the early part of 2019. Altice wants to make its service available in all European countries in which the company has operations, noted Reuters.
When Orange first revealed it was planning to open an online bank, the telecoms company said some of the features would include mobile payment transfers, like how Venmo operates, and the availability of near-field communication (NFC) payments. Opening up a checking or savings account would be free and could be done at an Orange store or online.
The French telecom company also plans on having an IBM artificial intelligence Watson-based chatbot assistant to help consumers with any issues that arise. As with other traditional retail banks, Orange is also working on insurance products and loan services, and it hopes to have an API for FinTech companies to sync up with the company’s financial offerings.