By Chris Donkin

Orange touts Africa collaboration as bank plan intensifies

Orange deputy CEO for mobile financial services Paul de Leusse urged Africa’s mobile money providers to get around the table to discuss interoperability if they are to successfully expand into merchant payments on the continent.

During a media event, de Leusse pointed to merchant payments as a major opportunity for mobile money providers but warned large businesses were unwilling to strike separate deals with each operator.

“The larger the network is, the easier it is for us to gain more clients. If we want to develop merchant payments, the merchants won’t discuss with MTN, Orange, Airtel and so on. They want to discuss with one scheme,” he added.

Orange already has an interoperability deal in place with MTN and the company aims to develop similar partnerships with other operator groups.

In addition to targeting merchant payments, Orange plans to launch micro credit services across its African mobile money operation. It is also mulling the addition of savings and select insurance products.

Spain launch

de Leusse also gave an update on the company’s ambitious plans for the expansion of Orange Bank, which launched in France during November 2017.

Its second market of Spain is slated to go live between September and November with Poland, Slovakia and Belgium likely to be the next three markets. It also plans to launch a limited functionality version of its bank in Romania later this year.

Spain, the executive added, is a market the operator sees huge potential in, as a larger proportion of the country’s consumers are open to digital banking than in its home market of France.

Initially it will only launch basic payment services in Spain, followed by loans – a segment Orange hopes will eventually make-up a significant part of the division’s business.

In France, where Orange Bank already has around 250,000 customers, it plans to add the loan facility in July. sx