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Orange is launching a bank because reasons

French telecom company Orange is launching a bank this Summer in France. Orange CEO Stéphane Richard listed some of the features behind Orange Bank this morning at a press conference. And let’s just say that it doesn’t sound as groundbreaking as the company thinks.

Just like N26, Revolut and others, you’ll be able to control your payment card directly from your phone. Transactions will show up instantly in the app and you’ll be able to block and unblock the card in a couple of taps in case you can’t find it.

You’ll also be able to send money with a text message. So you can expect a peer-to-peer payment service like Lydia, Venmo, etc. Finally, Richard hinted at NFC payments with your phone. Orange already supports NFC payments on Android with Orange Cash, and using Apple Pay on iOS.

You’ll be able to create an account in an Orange store or online. Creating an account is free and you don’t have to be an Orange customer. You won’t pay any monthly fee as long as you regularly use your account and card. Customers will be able to open a checking account with overdraft, a savings account and will get a Visa card.

When it comes to customer support, Orange Bank is going to provide traditional phone and text support during daytime. But that’s not all as Orange thought it would be a good idea to partner with IBM to provide an AI-powered Watson-based assistant to help you.

Let’s just say that I’m quite skeptical because customers shouldn’t have to contact customer support in the first place. If you provide enough features and give back control to your users, then customers don’t need to call you to process a transfer, increase the payment limit with your card or open a savings account.

But I guess chatbots are trendy, so this Watson assistant will help you with some basic features. Maybe I’m wrong and it’ll be Orange Bank’s killer feature. I’ll find out when Orange Bank is available.

Orange first acquired 65 percent of Groupama Banque in April 2016. At the time, the company said Orange Bank would launch in early 2017. Orange is going to miss its target as Orange Bank is going to launch on July 6, 2017. Orange employees will be able to open an account starting on May 15. Eventually, Orange wants to attract 2 million customers in France.

Richard already mentioned that Orange is working on insurance products and loans. So Orange Bank will have all the key features of a retail bank. There will be an API so that fintech startups can connect their services with Orange’s financial services. It’ll come down to execution and user experience. Traditional banking apps in France suck, so let’s see if Orange can do a better job on this front.

Featured Image: Laurent Chamussy/SIPA/Orange

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