June 29, 2017 / 12:01 PM / 21 days ago

UPDATE 1-Telecoms group Orange postpones launch of online bank

2 Min Read

(Updates with union official comments, background)

PARIS, June 29 (Reuters) - French telecoms company Orange has delayed the nationwide launch of its online banking service from next week until the end of summer, Chief Executive Stephane Richard said in an interview with Paris Match magazine.

France's biggest telecoms operator sees new banking services as one of its key drivers for growth, hoping to lure some 2 million customers over 10 years.

A spokesman for the company confirmed the decision and said that Orange Bank had "to extend and broaden the test phase" of the service. It had been due to launch on July 6.

Orange Bank would offer its customers use of an instant, secure mobile payment service as well as a free debit card. Its online app will also make it possible for users to transfer money via a text message to another Orange account.

However, CFE-CGC trade union official Sebastien Crozier said the test phase had thrown up some problems.

"We provided feedback to signal many incidents related to the quality of the user interface and the customer service," Crozier said by telephone.

France's largest online banks, ING Direct and SocGen's Boursorama, have some 1 million clients each.

Stephane Beyazian, an analyst at brokerage Raymond James, said investors were cautious over the prospects for Orange Bank, with the French banking sector dominated by BNP Paribas , Societe Generale, Credit Agricole and BPCE .

About 2,000 French Orange employees are currently testing and using the app.

Orange Bank aims to break even in four to five years. It was formed after the acquisition of a 65 percent stake in Groupama Banque last year. (Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic, Mathieu Rosemain, Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Keith Weir and David Evans)

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