October 2, 2014 / 11:50 AM / 5 years ago

Mobile firm Orange teams up with mBank in Poland

WARSAW, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Poland’s largest telecoms operator Orange Polska and the country’s No.4 lender mBank have teamed up to launch a mobile service aimed at boosting revenue and retaining customers in competitive markets, they said on Thursday.

The collaboration gives clients of both groups access to cheaper credit and helps lower their telephone bills.

“We expect to gain around 1 million clients in three years,” said Cezary Stypulkowski, who heads mBank, a Polish unit of Germany’s Commerzbank.

“If revenue is comparable to current levels, we’re talking a few hundred million zlotys of additional income in the third year.”

“We expect that after three years this offer will contribute the equivalent of several percent of our current total revenue,” added Bruno Duthoit, chief executive at the local unit of France’s Orange.

With around 57 million SIM cards and 38.5 million bank accounts in a country of 38 million people, Poland is becoming a tougher market for both banks and telecoms firms.

Faced with shrinking revenues in a competitive market, telecom operators are trying to diversify their income streams. Orange Polska, with 15 million mobile users, wants to tap into mBank’s customer base of eight million.

Polish lenders face an uphill struggle for margins in the face of possible cuts to local interest rates, which are already at a record low.

Poland’s largest mobile player, a local unit of Deutsche Telekom, earlier this year teamed up with mid-tier lender Alior Bank to launch a similar offering.

Meanwhile, Poland’s third-largest mobile operator Polkomtel , a unit of Polish media group Cyfrowy Polsat, is already bundling its offer with a small lender, Plus Bank. The bank and Cyfrowy have the same controlling shareholder.

“Such a model works well in countries like Kenya and Tanzania, but there hasn’t yet been an equivalent in more developed countries,” said Patrice Cochelin, analytical manager for Telecoms and Technology at Standard & Poor’s.

“Such new revenue streams raise clients’ loyalty but remain more of an add-on than a game changers,” he added. (Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Wiktor Szary and Mark Potter)

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