Orange CMO keen to get credit on the menu at new bank in search for customers

The arrival of credit services will be key to driving customer acquisition at Orange Bank, according to the operator's Chief Marketing Officer, who describes the new service as a "once in a decade opportunity".

The operator’s mobile banking service launches in France in July with current and savings accounts, a debit card and overdraft protection on offer.

Orange has said additional services including credit and insurance will be provided in the future, without specifying a date nor the precise nature of the services in plans to offer.

Jean-Marie Culpin, the company’s CMO since 2011, can’t wait to get his hands on the likes of mortgages as he looks to deliver on Orange Bank’s promise to sign up two million customers in its home market.

He sees the provision of credit as key to overcoming the inherent inertia associated with switching bank accounts.

Figures from Bacs, the organisation with responsibility for the schemes behind the clearing and settlement of UK automated payments, reveal around

316,000 customers switched bank accounts between January and April this year.

“In many countries, there is a lot of stickiness except when it comes to credit,” Culpin tells European Communications.

He says significant “life events”, such as buying a house, cause people to shop around.

Orange needs to work out when these happen and “be there” with an appropriate proposition, Culpin says.

“It’s not like the release of a new smartphone,” he warns.

“It’s not just about the geeks, it’s mass market.”

Orange will lean on some of the data its 32 million customers in France provide it with already.

“Roughly 10 percent of the French population move house every year,” Culpin says. “We know that from providing fixed broadband services.”

The CMO says Orange’s marketing efforts will be focused around events such as this and will look to promote how it can “change the day-to-day lives of customers”.

While the mobile-first approach of Orange Bank naturally lends itself to millennials, it is their parents who control the bank accounts.

Culpin says persuading them will be key and Orange must not fall back on marketing strategies that worked for telecoms-related services and hardware.

“It’s another playing field,” he says.

“It’s a totally different kind of product, like when we launched IPTV over 10 years ago.”

Orange hopes to generate revenues of €400 million from mobile financial services, including its existing offerings in Africa, Poland and the Middle East, by 2018.

In France, Orange Bank is launching as a free service.

With the launch date just six weeks away, Culpin is understandably coy about discussing what exactly Orange will do.

But he notes the telco “will not do things by half” when it comes to marketing its new offering.

Looking ahead, Culpin thinks the biggest challenge will be customer engagement.

He foresees some people signing up and trialling the bank alongside their traditional service provider.

“We have to get it right first time,” he says. “We can’t fail.”

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