NewBank Nickel and Accounts for All, which was acquired by BNP in 2017, has a five-year development plan ending in 2024. Opportunity for a mid-term appraisal with Marie Degrand-Gillode, executive vice president of Nickel.
JDN. Since BNP Paribas’ acquisition of Nickel in 2017, what has changed?
Marie Degrand Gillaud. It was there before and after. This merger enabled us to review the technological building blocks and our core banking system thanks to the expertise of BNP. It also allowed us to build a comprehensive five-year development plan that we launched in 2019.
Where are you in the middle of the road?
Originally, Nickel set himself three goals. The first was to accelerate the number of customers in France to four million by 2024. Today we have 2.5. The second goal focused on customer satisfaction through user experience by maintaining our level of satisfaction. Our NPS (Net Promoter Score, editor’s note) Between 50 and 60 years old.
Nickel has 2.5 million customers and we are preparing to launch it in Portugal, Belgium and Germany by 2023.
The last goal was to become a strong show at the international level. For this, we launched in Spain in January 2021 and are preparing to launch in Portugal, Belgium and Germany by 2023. In each country, we want to set up a passport strategy for our licensing to offer a local RIB and become the main account for our clients. We have the ambition to develop distribution networks in every country. That is why we look for independent networks rooted in the daily life of the country. Tobacco and the lottery in Spain, journalistic booksellers in Belgium, grocers in Portugal and bingo in Germany. In this third axis, we started from nothing. In 2019 we were only present in France. The goal we set ourselves was to get to eight countries, and that still leaves us with three countries to announce by 2024. We’re not perfect, but we’re where we want to be.
Other fintech companies, especially European ones, have similar ambitions to Nickel’s – we’re thinking of new banks like Revolut or N26 that also offer French IBANS. How do you deal with this competition?
We adopt divergent strategies, but on a third of our clients, Revolut positions itself as a direct competitor. Young, urban, active, connected…and mobile. Revolut, for example, offers wallet products in international currencies. At Nickel, we believe that the product closest to people’s daily lives is current account. The first profile of our clients are those who have had problems with the traditional system, such as bank bans. Next come people who want to do without the heaviness of traditional bank fees, which average 215 euros per year in France. (Panorabanque 2020 study, editor’s note)compared to 60 in nickel. It’s in our third customer profile competitors Like Revolut or the N26 are competing against us. These are the people who want a second card for travel, online shopping, home shopping… as we try to set ourselves apart is on the level of distribution, a segment that most of our competitors don’t have. In the absence of investment products, we aim to become a daily payment standard for as many people as possible. The payments sector is rich in terms of innovations and technological breakthroughs and we are convinced that there will be others.
Can you give some examples of payment innovations Nickel has been able to position itself on?
In 2020, we partnered with US money transfer company Ria Money Transfer and French fintech company that specializes in financial services for expats Monisnap. This allows our customers to send cash to their loved ones back home. In the continuity of this association, we have developed a way for our clients to cash checks, which has not been the case with other new banks.
“We aim to become the standard for everyday payment”
Savings products are among the main products of banking offers, are you planning to offer them?
Once we provide a complete expense management solution successfully, the next step is to help our clients save money. This is clearly a topic we’re watching closely, but we still have things to do when we push.
Specifically when paying, Apple Pay recently launched a Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) offer, so does that reflect the things to do that I just mentioned?
This kind of news is part of our projects or at least part of our thinking. Products like BNPL weren’t very present until recently, but they are now developing across the board across iPhone users in this case. We are convinced that this kind of daily products can bring more flexibility to our customers. There are a lot of innovations, we have to anticipate and understand their impact. There are payment methods that are starting to compete with the card, such as QR Codes. This will certainly change business models and make transactions more flexible. The goal is to ensure that innovation is within the reach of everyone.