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BARCELONA, March 1 (Reuters) - French telecoms operator Orange's new online banking service will match French rivals' offers, which usually include cash and free-of-charge credit cards, an executive said on Wednesday.
Along with expansion in Africa and the Middle East, France's number one telecoms operator sees its new banking services as a key driver for growth, hoping to lure some of its 29 million mobile customers in its home country.
"We'll match the market, with a very competitive offer," said Marc Rennard, the head of Orange's financial services, in an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, without giving specific details.
Orange Bank was formed after the acquisition of a 65 percent stake in Groupama Banque last year. It is scheduled to formally launch in the next few weeks, Orange said.
With a set target of 2 million banking clients in France over 10 years, the telecoms operator said its offer would be cheaper and more transparent in terms of fee policy than those of its bigger competitors in the field, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas.
"We'll offer loans, but quite frankly, we'll focus more on credit loans than on mortgages, as we need to be very cautious with long-term commitments, given the current evolution of interest rates," he said.
Orange already has a phone-based payment system, Orange Money, which is heavily used in several west African countries such as Mali and Ivory Coast.
About 15 billion euros ($15.81 billion) were transacted via Orange Money last year, Rennard said. Orange's payment and new banking service should add 400 million euros to group revenue by 2018, he said.
Orange also plans to launch its bank in Spain, followed possibly by Belgium.
Orange Bank will cost the group about 100 million euros in 2017, Chief Executive Stephane Richard said last week. The telecoms operator aims to reach breakeven within five years. ($1 = 0.9489 euros) (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Bate Felix and Susan Thomas)