Orange Group has announced the launch of Orange Bank Africa, significantly ramping up its financial service offering in one of the world’s fastest growing markets.
Orange Bank Africa will initially in The Ivory Coast with plans to expand into Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali.
“Traditional banking penetration is very low in the Ivory Coast, perhaps only around 5 per cent. If you include mobile banking services, that figure will increase to around 15 – 20 per cent. That means that 80 per cent of the population is unbanked,” Patrick Roussel, executive VP, MEA Mobile Financial Services at Orange told CommsMEA in an exclusive briefing this week.
Orange Bank Africa will be a partnership between Orange and African assurance specialist firm, NSIA, with Orange owning a 75 per cent stake in the business. Orange Bank Africa, headed by Jean-Louis Menann-Kouamé, will offer clients a range of simple savings and credit services available at all times via mobile phone.
With so many people in West Africa living outside the reach of traditional banking services, the launch of Orange Bank Africa could empower millions of people to begin using a wide range of financial services from micro lending to online payments.
Orange Bank Africa via its Orange Money service will offer a range of savings and micro credit services allowing customers to borrow as little as 5,000 CFA francs ($8.90) instantly by using their mobile phone. There is obviously enormous scope for Orange Group to expand the launch of Orange Bank Africa across its African footprint.
While Roussel did not reveal an exact time frame for the expansion of Orange Bank Africa throughout Western Africa, he did say that the launch in the Ivory Coast would provide a solid template for further launches.
“It’s not only the launch of operations in the Ivory Coast [the launch also represents] the completion of the full organisation structure plus IT model that will lead to a similar customer journey and marketing offering for the neighbouring countries. The IT systems that have been put in place will be exactly the same in the three remaining countries that we wish to deploy in Western Africa.
“Technically speaking we are ready to go. We are expecting the Central Bank to give us the green light to launch in any of the three remaining countries [Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali] by the end of next year,” he said.
Orange is one of the most progressive telcos on the market, continuously evolving its service offering beyond the traditional limits of the telco. The company’s Group CEO, Stéphane Richard, believes that mobile financial services will be a key driver of growth for Orange Group in Africa.
“Banking is a new area of business for Orange in Africa. It falls squarely in line with our strategy as a multi-service operator and our desire to drive the digital transformation forward in Africa. Based on our association with NSIA, also a leader on the market in Africa, we provide easy access to bank services for as many people as possible, with simple and essential services that benefit all our clients.”
With the majority of countries in Western Africa still grappling with the effects of the global Covid 19 pandemic, there is a huge opportunity for Orange Bank Africa to facilitate a range of financial services that will allow Ivoirians to maintain social distancing and conduct their financial business remotely and securely.
Later this year, CommsMEA and the ITP Tech Division will host their first Digital Africa summit. The online event will explore the plethora of challenges and opportunities for operators and vendors looking to bring life changing connectivity and services to over a billion people. The online event will span three days and will include insights from all of Africa’s key connectivity players.
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