THE French will soon be able to buy their cigarettes and do their banking at the same time as the country’s huge network of tobacconists opens up a stripped-down, cut-price bank account.
France’s association of 27 000 tobacconists, or tabacs, whose distinctive red, diamond-shaped signs dot the country’s streets, will be out to win business from the likes of BNP Paribas and Société Générale as established banks cut back their retail networks in a stagnating economy.
The Nickel bank account, which after initial tests is due to be expanded nationwide next year, will offer customers a debit card and a current account for e20 (R268). That compares with about e28 to e30 for the cheapest payment cards at BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Crédit Agricole. Although Nickel clients will be charged fees for depositing and withdrawing money, the tabac association, still estimates the cost of holding an account at less than e50 a year.