After many interruptions, Orange CEO Stéphane Richard announced that Orange Bank will be live on November 2, 2017. The original date of Orange bank was on July 6, 2017 but was postponed, citing the need to “extend and broaden the test phase.” Customers will be granted access to mobile payment services, free debit cards, and online applications that will allow transfers via text message.
By 2018, Orange intends to create $400 million in revenue, and attract more than two million customers. They are competing with France’s largest existing online banks, ING Direct and Société Générale’s Boursorama, who have one million users each. The new service was formed after Orange acquired a 65% stake in Groupama Banque last year.
Orange understands that everyone is online these days, and many will want to control their bank accounts from mobile devices, which likely gave them the idea to become their own banking institution.
The French telecom company also wants to support their customers with issues using an Watson-based chatbot assistant created by IBM artificial intelligence. Orange is also planning to offer insurance products and loan services, and it hopes to have an API for financial tech companies to sync with the company’s financial offerings.
“We are creating a mobile bank with our high level of requirements, not a small product from a little-known German startup. [Orange Bank] is going to become a product that French people use every day and it represents a lot of development. Orange Bank is the biggest IT project in France in 2017,” Richard said at an HEC event. The company has nearly 100,000 customers with the German fintech startup N26 in France, and 500,000 users across Europe.