November 8, 2017 / 4:19 PM / a year ago

Credit Agricole joins low-cost online banking rush

PARIS, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Credit Agricole, France’s biggest retail bank, plans to launch a low-cost online banking service in a bid to fend off internet competitors and start-ups in financial services.

French banks are rushing to build up their online businesses in the face of low cost offerings from nimble “fintech” firms and established telecom players such as Orange and changing customer behaviours.

Cooperative group Credit Agricole said on Wednesday its new service would be called EKO. The account will cost 2 euros per month, offer a debit card and a mobile app which helps manage expenses and sends alerts if the account goes into the red.

“It meets the expectations of a low price, as well as budget management,” Credit Agricole said in a statement, adding that it had chosen the name EKO to “reflect its simplicity”.

The group of regional cooperative banks, with 21 million individual customers and a 23.3 percent market share of French household deposits, earlier reported a 4 percent nine-month revenue fall, feeling the pinch of low interest rates and the renegotiation of home loans.

France’s banks are looking for ways to retain clients as high street banking declines, although few of the online banks they have created so far are profitable. (Reporting Maya Nikolaeva; editing by Leigh Thomas/Alexander Smith)

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