French telecoms provider Orange is launching a digital bank in West Africa together with bancassurance provider NSIA.
The venture, called Orange Bank Africa, is launching first in Côte d'Ivoire with plans to expand into Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Orange and NSIA are aiming to provide greater access to financial services and improve the financial inclusion of people living in West Africa.
"New technology is needed to strengthen financial inclusion and support economic development, as proven by mobile money over the past few years. Banking is a new area of business for Orange in Africa. It falls squarely in line with our strategy as a multi-service operator and our desire to drive the digital transformation forward in Africa," said Orange Chairman and CEO, Stéphane Richard, in a statement.
Orange Bank Africa will offer a range of simple mobile-based savings and micro-credit services via the Orange Money service.
"Orange Bank Africa will address the needs of a large part of the population, often excluded from the world of conventional banking, allowing them to borrow and save small amounts that are nonetheless essential for their everyday lives," the group said.
The new digital bank will be headed by Jean-Louis Menann-Kouamé, who was previously the CEO of BNP Paribas' subsidiaries in Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso.
Orange's mobile financial services strategy in Africa is to offer solutions accessible to the broadest population and the new digital bank has aspirations of becoming "a leader in ensuring financial inclusion in West Africa."
— The Staff, Connecting Africa