French telecoms tycoon Niel ventures into crowded payment sector

FILE PHOTO: Xavier Niel, founder of French broadband Internet provider Iliad, arrives for a hearing on the concentration of media ownership in the country, at the French Senate in Paris, France, February 18, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Xavier Niel, the founder and owner of French telecoms group Iliad, is venturing into the crowded payment sector with the aim of applying the same low-cost formula he used for mobile phone services.

Iliad subsidiary Stancer on Tuesday began offering payment services to all shop-owners in France. Its goal is to expand to other European countries where the French telecoms firm is based, including Poland and Italy, its CEO George Owen said.

"We want to be Iliad's alter ego in the world of payments," Owen said, adding that Stancer's payment fees were two to three times lower than those of rivals, which he declined to name.

The payment sector includes bigger companies such as U.S.-based Stripe and Netherlands-based Adyen, currently valued at about 40 billion euros ($38.50 billion).

In France, the startup Smile&Pay plays on the same turf.

Iliad's Free Mobile services shook France's mobile market in 2012 with cheaper contracts, unleashing a wave of cut-throat competition whose effects are still be felt today.

Stancer said that variable fees for payments made with a credit card from the European Economic Area would amount to 0.7%.

Transactions made via Stancer's terminal, manufactured by U.S. based company Verifone, will be processed for free for amounts lower than 7 euros, Stancer said. This compares to the variable fee of 1.4% at Stripe and 1.65% at Smile&Pay.

Stancer, which employs 25 people, was initially created in 2018 to handle payments for Iliad.

It declined to provide details on its finances and its business targets.

($1 = 1.0391 euros)

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by Richard Lough)

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