We’ve been waiting for a while, but the virtual doors to Orange’s banking proposition are now wide open.
It hasn’t been easy, but the team got there eventually. It might be a few weeks late, but that won’t matter much if the euros start to pile up. The financial services market is fiercely competitive, but Orange has a solid brand position in its domestic market, and it has been constantly referencing its successful Money proposition in Africa and the Middle East.
Whether this experience counts for anything remains to be seen, France is a very different marketplace after all and the team are taking on some monstrous businesses, but the signs are relatively positive for the moment.
“With Orange Bank, this is an important new chapter in our history: Orange is now also a bank,” said Stéphane Richard, CEO of Orange.
“A 100% mobile-based bank that is dedicated to providing an incomparable user experience. A bank that combines the best innovations available on the market today into a single offer. A bank that will listen to its customers and constantly enrich its offer and its features to meet their expectations. In short, a bank with the customer at its heart. I am particularly pleased that our customers can discover and benefit from it today.”
The only way Orange was going to make this venture a success was by doing something disruptive, and it seems to be on the right track. The bank account is free, which doesn’t count for much in the UK but it does in France, it’s open 24/7 and has digital elements such as a virtual assistant for those who want to head that direction.
It is also one of the first propositions which is mobile first, and we can tell you from experience it is a relatively good offering. Last year, we were given a demo of how the platform works, and to be fair, it is a lot more responsive and smoother than the traditional bank’s mobile applications.
Another interesting but desperately simple feature is the idea of real-time balances. Unlike your bank account right now, when you make a payment or transfer, it will appear immediately. It doesn’t matter when or where, you will always know exactly how much is in your account. This might sound overly simple, but there aren’t many other products which can offer this as default.
We’ve been quite impressed with Orange over the last couple of months, and this is one of the reasons. This is a telco which is doing something different and proactively trying to manage the challenges. Most of the telcos around Europe are watching their business slip into utilization, but Orange is chasing new markets and creating products which are designed for the digital economy. For the telcos who are out there and struggling to adapt to the new status quo, perhaps they should have a look at Paris for some inspiration.
Ambition is of course no guarantee of success, but to change fortunes you have to do something different. Some telcos are burying their head and waiting for the connected sandstorm to pass, whereas some as going out in search of the oasis.