Over 30,000 customers have opened accounts at Orange Bank, the operator’s CEO has revealed, as the telco updated the market at the midway point of its latest five-year plan.
Speaking at an investor day in London on Thursday (7 November), Stephane Richard also spoke about the importance of FTTH, his fears about the rising price of content and why he does not expect pan-European consolidation in the medium term.
Just over a month after the delayed launch of Orange Bank, the CEO said the service had attracted tens of thousands of customers in little over a week.
Although he did not share more up-to-date figures, he described the launch as a “success” and noted that customers were willing to have multiple bank accounts.
But news that “traditional” banks are already aping some of Orange Banks’s functionality could be viewed as a concern as well as a sign the operator is on the right path.
Orange said it is looking at how best to incorporate its mobile bank into new bundles in an effort to tempt more people to sign up.
The launch is something of a bellwether for how telcos can expand into new areas - another is content.
Orange is spending €750 million this year on the likes of TV and video as it looks to provide “the best content at a reasonable price”.
In July it launched a new division to pool all its content resources together and committed €100 million over the next five years to producing a range of “ambitious series”.
However, Richard said at the investor day that his company would not participate in the “expected inflation” of football acquisition rights in France but rather would continue to focus on being an aggregator.
This was signposted in September, when Orange announced it had extended a partnership with Netflix, expanding the video on-demand company’s services to all its opcos.
Richard said providing financial services and content would help the operator at a time when the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are trying to “penetrate the homes with personal assistants”.
To boot, Orange is set to launch its own voice assistant, Djingo, next year.
But the CEO downplayed talk of pan-European consolidation between operators – something many believe necessary if they are to compete on a more even footing with Silicon Valley’s finest.
Rather, Richards said Orange would continue to look at M&A opportunities to boost its capabilities in content, digital processes, such as AI, and enterprise-focused IT and security services.
In-market consolidation is another area the France-based company will keep an eye on, Richard said.
Underpinning Orange’s ability to provide content in particular is its growing fibre network.
Richard described FTTH as a “winning bet” and said Orange was the European leader with 25 million connectable lines across the continent.
In its home market, the company will connect 20 million premises to the pure fibre tech by 2021, a year ahead of schedule.
In Spain, it will connect 16 million homes and business with FTTH by 2020, two million more than originally planned.
Amid concerns about the amount of money Orange is spending on deploying the technology – capex is set to peak at €7.4 billion in 2018 – CFO Ramon Fernandez took to the stage to say that FTTH was currently providing an ARPU uplift of €6.2 versus legacy ADSL.
This is expected to grow to €7 in 2018 and €8 in “the long term”.
Fernandez also revealed that the company had set itself a new opex saving target of €1 billion between 2019 and 2020.
Looking further ahead, Richard said Orange would pursuing three 5G business models – enhanced mobile broadband, fixed wireless and network slicing – once the tech is deployed after 2020.