Hutchison Whampoa's 48.22 per cent-owned British mobile phone network, Orange, has launched itself into the financial services sector in a bid to capture a larger slice of the highly competitive British mobile market. Teaming up with NatWest Bank, it has launched the Orange Visacard, which will offer a competitive rate of interest on borrowing, and marks the first initiative taken by the group in the run-up to the busy Christmas season. Today, Orange is expected to launch a new advertising campaign to coincide with its Visacard, which also can be used as a global calling card, with users able to make calls from more than 200 countries. Orange's new card will offer 56 days of interest-free credit, and Orange says the calls made using the global calling facility will be substantially lower than most local rates. As a further incentive, users also will be given free travel accident insurance worth up to GBP50,000 (about HK$602,000), and will be available not only to the cardholder, but also the spouse and all unmarried children under 23. There will be no account fees for the first year, and Orange customers who apply for the card before the end of the year will receive three months of free weekend calls on the network. Orange, which last week saw its shares rise when it announced 659,000 subscribers to its network, has only about 10 per cent of the British market, but is unlike some of its competitors in that it has sold its service directly to customers. Consequently, it has a ready database through which it can market its new Visacard directly. The group is eager to maintain its 30 per cent market share of net new subscribers, in the four-player British market. Orange's move comes as one of its principal competitors, Vodafone, has launched an aggressive television advertising campaign for its pre-pay mobile phone scheme, and Mercury One-2-One, owned by Cable & Wireless and US West, starts its own advertising blitz. Orange floated on the London Stock Exchange this year at 205 pence, but after going as high as 251p, is languishing at 190.5p.