French telecom operator Orange is acquiring a majority stake in Groupama Banque, allowing Orange to create the mobile-only Orange Bank in France at the beginning of 2017.
Orange will own 65 percent of Orange Bank, while Groupama retains a 35 percent ownership.
Through Orange Bank, Orange and Groupama will offer all essential banking services over a mobile platform, including current accounts, savings, loans and insurance services, as well as payment.
The combined ambition for the two groups is to attract over two million customers in France. Plans call for expansion to Spain and Belgium as well.
“This agreement is a major step forward in our ambition to diversify into mobile financial services as we outlined in our Essentials 2020 strategy,” said Stéphane Richard, Orange chairman and CEO.
Orange's investment is part of its ambition to diversify its business, perhaps part of a potential trend: mobile operators becoming banks. That, in turn, is part of a larger effort by European and other mobile operators to avoid becoming dumb pipes.