France-based telecom Orange is preparing to enter the mobile banking sector in a big way. The company has sealed a deal to acquire Groupama Banque via a 65 percent stake, with plans to rename the latter Orange Bank.
The companies hope to attain regulatory approval and to finalize the deal in Q3 of this year, and to launch Orange Bank in France in 2017, with plans for the bank to spread to Spain and Belgium soon after. Orange Bank will reportedly offer a fully mobile banking service, which could also involve mPayments.
Orange has already been busy exploring technological areas related to mobile, entering a partnership with Ericsson last year to test cellular coverage for IoT devices, and recently offering digital security solutions to Morpho (Safran), a company that is itself increasingly active in the mobile space. Moreover, Orange has also dabbled in payments, with a recent deal to bring Orange mobile network solutions to Iraq to facilitate ePayments services.
But Orange’s controlling stake in Groupama Banque represents its deepest dive into mobile banking, and Orange Bank will take shape in a dramatically changing banking and payments landscape in which it will face competition from traditional banks and upstarts like Apple Pay and PayPal.