November 19, 2018 / 5:09 PM / a month ago

France's Casino buys 5 percent stake in fintech firm Lyf Pay

PARIS (Reuters) - Casino (CASP.PA) said on Monday it had bought a 5 percent stake in fintech company Lyf Pay as part of the French retailer’s bid to gain a foothold in the European mobile payments business.

Lyf Pay aims to build a mobile payments system in Europe to rival Apple Pay, which has been developed by U.S. firm Apple (AAPL.O), and Alipay, which is offered by China’s Alibaba’s (BABA.N).

Casino did not say how much it paid for the stake.

“We cannot just offer goods, we have to offer more services to our clients as well,” Casino’s deputy chief executive and chief operating officer, Julien Lagubeau, said.

Less than 1 percent of all payments in France are now made through mobile phones but the market is growing.

Casino, whose shares have lost almost a third of their value since the start of the year, is battling intense competition and has to ease investor concerns about its debt levels.

Lyf Pay, created in 2016 by the merger of Fivory and Wa!, offers customers payment services, loyalty programs, discount vouchers and the ability to transfer money via mobile phone.

The company is controlled by France’s largest listed bank BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA) and unlisted cooperative bank Credit Mutuel Alliance Federale, which each own more than 40 percent.

Other investors in Lyf Pay include Casino’s domestic retail rival Auchan, oil company Total (TOTF.PA) and New York-based payments processor Mastercard (MA.N).

Lyf Pay initially aims to expand in Italy and Belgium, where BNP Paribas has a significant presence, said Thierry Laborde, who runs the bank’s retail operations in France, Belgium and Italy.

Reporting by Inti Landauro and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Edmund Blair

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