October 15, 2013

A Tale of Two Banks - Revisited

By Anne Catherine Nunes, Account Director

Back in 2009, we published an article on GammaLife called "A Tale of Two Banks" about two French financial institutions - Credit Agricole and Mutuelles de Mans Assurances (MMA) - that were both using mobile to engage consumers, particularly youth, but in very different ways.

Credit Agricole was taking a straight-forward sales approach, providing information about financial products and a connection to sales agents. MMA, on the other hand, created a branded portal with no direct sales component; MMA's site, Mon Mobile Adore, offered users the ability to set up their own mobile home page and download simple mobile content like ringtones.

Now, four years later, how are the two banks doing? Have these early-adopters of mobile stuck to the same approach or changed course?

Let's start with three initial observations, before we zoom in to look at each company.

1. The French mobile marketplace has changed (duh!). Smartphones are more prevalent and the mobile internet is no longer something mainly for teens and young adults. Both Credit Agricole and MMA recognise this and have adapted. Their mobile content and strategy targets all age groups. This is clear from their ads, like this one by Credit Agricole which shows how kids, parents and grandparents can all benefit:

2. Both financial institutions have built on their initial mobile presence. They offer significantly more content and have multiple mobi-sites.

3. They're not alone. Every French bank and insurer has a mobile presence, which means that CA and MMA need to continually innovate if they are to stand out.

Credit Agricole

Credit Agricole's mobile focus has shifted from straight-forward sales to creating a community and providing financial tools that are relevant to its consumers.

The bank now has its own App Store, "Le CA Store", with 27 applications on offer, some created by the bank, others by developers. In addition, users can communicate with developers to suggest ways to improve existing tools and ideas for new ones. There are over 130 such ideas currently on the site.

No longer are CA's customers limited to simply checking information about the status of their accounts. With "My Budget", they can also move funds, pay bills, track spending and manage specific projects (like buying a home). Other apps provide currency conversions, map where you spend money or enable users to 'pimp ma banque,' (customise the look & feel of their accounts).

Credit Agricole takes a two-tier approach to content provision. Apps created by the bank can be downloaded for free. Access to developer-created content costs between 0.79 - 1.99 euros per month. For 0.79 euros, a consumer can use up to 10 applications; 1.99 euros provides users with unlimited access. To further promote the CA Store, Credit Agricole is offering consumers free access to the entire catalogue of apps for the first month after registration.

More than 60,000 consumers have visited the CA Store; some 25% have registered to use it. Credit Agricole markets its App Store both to existing clients and other databases as well.


MMA's approach to the mobile internet focuses on providing content and messaging that are in line with its brand and mission statement. No longer does it simply offer ringtones or links to your favourite websites. MMA's apps and sites center on safety, good health and security, all key concepts for an insurer.

One app - a 'coffre fort' or safe - extends the concept of security to encompass mobile users' personal documents. The app is billed as a safe place for users to store sensitive items - like passport scans and bank statements - on their phone.

While useful, MMA is not the only French insurer to offer this service.

France's eighth largest insurer meanwhile says that 'solidarity and humanism' are at the heart of its values. Since the late 1990s, MMA has promoted a campaign to enhance road safety and reduce accidents. In 2009, MMA launched a dedicated road safety mobisite called Zerotracas and now, the insurer offers consumers several mobile apps on this theme, including one that turns your iPhone into a breathalyzer.

MMA also has apps - targeted more at youth and people preparing to apply for a license - to help drivers and cyclists review road signs and the rules of the road.

There is a practical link, though, back to MMA's business. One service, called "SOS MMA" saves your car insurance info to your phone, so that it's on hand in case of an accident or breakdown.

Finance on Mobile

Digital channels like mobile are becoming increasingly central to the financial services industry.  Relative newcomers like India's Aditya Birla Money are using mobile to make it easy for consumers to not only track personal accounts and manage their money but also to purchase stocks and other financial products.  Mutuelles de Mans Assurances provides a good example of how mobile can be used to expand a brand's presence and also make it easy for consumers to locate important details in a an emergency.  Finally, Credit Agricole presents a possible roadmap for developing both a community and new financial content that's pertinent and requested by consumers.

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