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Coles working on financial services expansion

Coles working on financial services expansion

(13 June 2014 – Australia) Coles could be going head-to-head with Australia’s big four banks soon, with reports surfacing that a high-level strategy team is further developing the grocery chain’s financial services arm.

In May, Coles trademarked the brand “Coles mobile wallet”, setting the retailer for the high-growth digital payments space tipped to be the future of financial transactions, as mobile phones replace wallets.

It adds to other trademarks reserved by Coles such as ''Coles Money'', ''Coles Financial Solutions'' and ''Coles Financial Group''.

Since Wesfarmers bought Coles in 2007, it has steadily rolled out a suite of financial services. These include credit cards and car insurance, with Coles Insurance one of Australia's fastest-growing insurers.

The moves reflect a global trend of retailers pushing into banking. In Britain, Tesco, Sainsbury, and Marks & Spencer take deposits and sell personal loans, while Canada's largest food retailer, Loblaw, provides personal loans, credit cards and mortgages.

Coles recently launched the first Australian consumer trial of contactless payment technology PayTag, which allows shoppers to ''tap and pay'' for groceries using an encoded sticker on the back of a mobile phone.

Indeed, some Coles executives believe it can take on the ''big four banks'' at their own game, leveraging its network of 762 stores to reach out to the millions of customers that shop with it each week.

In a telling submission to the Financial System Inquiry headed by former CBA boss David Murray, Coles said retailers could drive innovation, competition and greater consumer choice in the sector.

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