Orange is launching Orange Bank on November 2

Romain Dillet
French telecom company Orange is launching a bank.

French telecom company Orange is launching a bank. But it turns out that launching a bank is harder than expected. After many delays, Orange CEO Stéphane Richard finally announced that Orange Bank will be live on November 2 — La Tribune first reported the launch details.

At some point, Orange realized that many people control their bank accounts from mobile apps. That’s why the company thinks it’s a good idea to become a bank on its own.

Orange Bank works more or less like N26’s basic features. You can make changes to your payment card from your phone, see transactions in real time, block and unblock your card and more.

You’ll be able to send money to other Orange Bank users instantly. Orange Bank will support Apple Pay and probably Android Pay.

Basic banking will remain free. When you open an account, you get a checking account that supports overdraft, a savings account and a Visa card. In addition to phone and text support, Orange has partnered with IBM to work on a chatbot for basic support questions.

This is a big bet for Orange. The company acquired 65 percent of Groupama Banque 18 months ago. Orange is also revamping many stores so that there’s a banking section.

And so far, it’s also been a big headache. Orange originally planned to launch Orange Bank in early 2017. The company then announced it would launch in July for sure. But the launch had to be delayed at the last minute because of bugs and tech issues.

Richard also made a not-so-classy, passive-aggressive statement about this new product, as La Tribune noticed. “We are creating a mobile bank with our high level of requirements, not a small product from a little-known German startup. [Orange Bank] is going to become a product that French people use every day and it represents a lot of development. Orange Bank is the biggest IT project in France in 2017,” he said at an HEC event.

German fintech startup N26 now has 100,000 customers in France and 500,000 users around Europe. It’s weird that the CEO of a big French company with tens of millions of customers sounds so worried about competition.