Boursorama launching mobile offer…well, maybe

Aug 9, 2012
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After successfully launching its mobile phone and tablet applications, which are currently being promoted via an interesting offer with Phone House,  online banking leader and Société Générale subsidiary Boursorama is considering jumping into the mobile fray with its own offer.  Bousorama’s management will decide in September whether they will move forward, which similar to La Poste Mobile or Virgin Mobile, would make them a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning that their mobile service would be delivered via usage of Orange or SFR’s network.

While the entry of Free has opened upon the mobile market considerably , it has also reduced prices to such an extent that it can be tricky for a new entrant to figure out how to profitably deliver a compelling offer for the end-user.  Such has been the problem of Société Générale’s management as they toil to identify a successful market-entry strategy.  According to an insider, they do, however, see “opportunities for straightforward web-based offers that trend towards the more upscale”.

Of course, the main objectives of launching a mobile offer are to acquire new clients, deepen their engagement with their existing clients, and, ultimately, leverage the mobile platform to market various banking services to both groups.  With 20% of their 400k clients already utilising Boursorama’s mobile applications to access their accounts and other content, launching their own offer fits well with the increasing importance of m-banking to their business and the banking market more generally.  In addition, 10.6 million visits to their internet site each month, provides them with a large audience to market their mobile apps and potential offer. It’s also likely that many of these internet site visits will eventually transition to mobile.  Positioning themselves as a the m-banking leader via a strong mobile presence and offer, will enable them to maintain this high level of engagement.   Lastly, their partnership with Phone House, as mentioned earlier, will also provide them with a physical channel to market their Boursorama mobile offer.  In the world of mobile, a physical presence still seems to be an important component of success as evidenced by the active promotion of Virign’s and La Poste’s mobile offers in their outlets as well as Free’s various “Free Centers”.

Although ‘Boursorama Mobile’ would likely be limited to a targeted group of consumers, one has to assume that the traditional telcos must be concerned by the increasing number of alternatives in the mobile space.  Of course, all these MVNOs are operating over established networks, so perhaps the telcos could just refuse to enter into rental agreements with them. However, it seems that the telcos figure the financial upside of renting out their networks outweighs the eventual loss of (some of) their clients.  From the perspective of French consumers however, it’s hard to see how finally having decent quality, reasonably priced mobile alternatives could be viewed as a bad thing.