After news that Orange had joined forces with MTN, one of Africa’s largest telcos, to form an interoperable mobile money transfer service dubbed Mowali, the new bank revealed the economics behind diversifying their mobile financial services at an event on Friday.
Marking 10 years on from the launch of mobile money service Orange Money and a year after the introduction of Orange Bank in Europe, Ramon Fernandez, delegate chief executive officer, executive director finance, performance and Europe, kicked off the discussion by highlighting that while Orange is working in B2C, B2B and the wholesale sector, “industry frontiers are now blurred.”
Fernandez also pointed out that for telcos to compete by digitisation, “existing players will need to adapt, select adjacent sectors to entry and these sectors will be encouraged to share synergy” – what Orange has shown with their move from selling mobile phone contracts to mobile banking.
Paul de Leusse, deputy chief executive officer for mobile financial services, said that Orange is now in a prime position to compete with traditional banks because they can provide advisor-based relationships with their app, that aims to democratise user experience innovation.
Alongside this, he suggested that Orange Bank could potentially compete with newer players because they do not offer “high-end banking applications for niche customers”, unlike digital banks and fintech startups and Orange’s intention is to give their customers “control of their personal finance through user experience.”
De Leusse continued: “Innovating on products is dangerous in financial services. Innovating means pushing clients to take risk.” However, at Orange, customer acquisition is done through data management and the telco embeds banking services into their existing product to bring innovation to the mass market.
Since launching Orange Bank in France, the organisation has welcomed 200,000 customers in one year with around 30-40% being active, 60% of this figure opened accounts in-store and 50% of customer-care interactions were handled by AI.
Fernandez added that unlike “neo-banks that target only young and urban segments, Orange Bank addresses all segments of the French market thanks to dense physical distribution channels.”
Orange Money, on the other hand, is currently operating in 17 countries, had 40 million customers by Q3 2018 with 14 million active. In addition to this, 260,000 consumer loans were taken out in Madagascar just seven months after the launch.
Orange plan to add on financial services to their Orange Money product in sub-Saharan Africa, focus on payment and consumer credit in Romania, Moldova and the Middle East and launch full digital banks in Spain, Belgium, Poland and Slovakia.