Digital-only banks take sizeable share in France but lose money: regulator

FILE PHOTO: The logo of cash machines Orange Bank is seen on the facade of the Bank headquarters in Montreuil near Paris, France, October 27, 2017. Picture taken October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - A new breed of digital-only banks has spread in France but still struggles to make any money, a report by France’s banking regulator ACPR said on Wednesday.

With rare exceptions, none of the twelve online banks has reached breakeven in 2017, the regulator said after reviewing their operations over the first half of this year.

About 6.5 percent of French people are clients these banks, which capture one third of all newly-opened accounts, according to the report.

A majority of the online banks, which include Orange Bank, Credit Agricole’s BforBank and Societe Generale’s Boursorama Banque, were taken over by traditional lenders.

Half of them expect to break even in 2020, an assumption that ACPR is challenging as their business model rests on high spending to win customers while charging almost no fees.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Mathieu Rosemain