French Telecom Groups Eye Moves into Online Banking – and Eventually Insurance

July 14, 2017

French billionaire Patrick Drahi plans to launch an online bank by spring 2019 across the euro zone countries where his telecoms group Altice operates, a source close to the matter said on Thursday.

Mobile operators are stepping up pressure on the traditional banks that dominate the market place, as the numbers of people walking into high street bank branches declines, with more and more customers now using smartphones to make purchases.

France’s biggest telecoms group Orange is also looking to launch its online banking service nationwide, aiming to take on traditional banks with a low-cost offering that will eventually expand into loans and insurance.

Altice is aiming to go beyond just France and has requested a banking license from the European Central Bank (ECB), said the source, confirming an earlier report by newspaper Le Parisien.

The ECB was not immediately available for a comment.

The bank would be named Alticebank and would operate across its European networks. In Europe, Altice owns French telecoms group SFR and is also present in Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Altice listed shares in its U.S. business on the New York stock exchange last month, giving the company public stock it can use as currency for new acquisitions.

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Maya Nikolaeva; editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Richard Lough)

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