Italy's Enel set to launch digital banking services

MILAN, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Italy’s Enel is set to be the first of Europe’s big utilities to launch new digital banking services this month that will allow customers to open a current account with a debit card to pay energy bills and access other financial services.

Europe’s biggest utility sees payment and open banking services such as wealth management and insurance as a new opportunity for growth as it ramps up digitalization across its networks and businesses.

The move comes as energy companies around the world invest billions in rolling out digital networks to help them run their businesses more efficiently and offer their clients new services in their homes and on their phones.

Enel X Financial Services, part of the utility’s digital solutions division Enel X, will launch a new app in October to give Enel’s 30 million Italian customers the chance to pay their bills from Enel accounts or with debit cards, Enel X head Francesco Venturini told Reuters.

It will then gradually roll out the service for its more than 70 million customers worldwide and will team up with specialist provider partners including digital asset manager Euclidea to offer services like asset management and insurance.

“Our aim is to head off rival competition in the electronic payment sector and to compete in financial services too,” Venturini said.

Enel has already announced a series of agreements to help it develop new financial digital services, most recently with Italian digital payments group SIA and Swedish open banking platform Tink.

“What we’re doing is what Amazon does with its clients and what Orange recently did when it opened its bank. We’re not Fintech, we’re Big Tech,” Venturini said.

Enel, which controls Spanish utility Endesa, invested around 4.5 billion euros ($5.3 billion) from 2017 to 2019 in the digitalization of its assets. Last year it became the first big European utility to move all its data to the cloud.

As one of Latin America’s biggest foreign power operators, it already has some 20 years experience in Colombia offering financial services.

$1 = 0.8475 euros Reporting by Stephen Jewkes;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle