Digital Customer Experience of Retail banks in Spain Part 2: Digital Proposition

Updated: May 6, 2020

Study and ranking of 16 retail banks in Spain, based on 420+ indicators measuring the performance of daily banking customer journeys, the efficiency of digital communication channels, the richness of digital features and the level of digitization of banking offerings.


Spain is one of the most advanced countries in Europe in terms of digital-only bank penetration. According to 2019 TNS Kantar/Mastercard’s Digital Banking study[1], 10% of Spanish consumers are client of a digital-only bank (top 3 position among 11 surveyed countries in Europe), involving an increasing demand for similar digital services from their incumbent banks. Furthermore, several banks in Spain, in particular BBVA, are often considered as digital champions among European retail banks.

The objective of D-Rating research is to factually measure digital gaps among competitors and rate their digital competitiveness that will potentially impact their future financial performance. In April 2019, we delivered the results of a first study (cf. Digital Usages) that measures and analyzes the usage level of banks’ digital channels when interacting with prospects and clients. The Usage Status study covered traffic, engagement, activities and generated satisfaction on digital channels. The main findings quantified how the digital usage of retail banking in Spain is very Mobile-App oriented and identified three high-performing traditional banks in terms of usage status.

This new complementary study covers the Digital Proposition of retail banks in Spain:

How user-friendly and efficient are digital customer journeys and contact channels for daily banking activities?

How rich and effective are digital features and access to banking offerings?

For a retail bank, digital proposition is crucial for digital performance. Digital Proposition performance can have impact on the capability to attract and retain customers – especially digital native ones – and to develop revenue by promoting and facilitating access to banking products & services through digital channels.


This study evaluates 16 retail banking brands in Spain including 9 traditional banks, 4 neo-banks, 2 first generation online banks, and 1 cooperative bank.

Figure 1 - List of evaluated retail banking brands

All banks were assessed by testing proposed digital features, digital access to banking products & services, digital contact channels and three daily banking customer journeys: “cuentas corrientes” account opening with payment card, money transfer and appointment scheduling. All measured indicators are based on factual and quantitative data. All data are collected according to an outside-in approach through real tests by mystery shoppers and research by D-Rating analysts. For this study in Spain, tests were executed between June and September 2019.

In order to ensure a full comparability of results across countries, data collection is performed by D-Rating following the same methodology for all evaluated banks in Spain and in other markets where D-Rating is active.

Beyond the content of this article, D-Rating subscribers can have access to all individual scores of all brands for all 420+ indicators, by using the D-Rating platform.


In this article, we share 4 key findings resulting from the 2019 Digital Proposition analysis of retail banks in Spain:

  • Key Finding n°1 : BBVA, Bankia and Abanca are the 3 traditional banks that are playing in the same Digital Proposition category as digital-only banks

  • Key Finding n°2 : The main gap of most traditional banks in Spain is related to digital CX user-friendliness & efficiency – the area initially challenged by neo-banks

  • Key Finding n°3 : Mortgage loans - a major tool for acquiring and retaining customers - is weakly promoted through digital channels

  • Key Finding n°4 : Compared to France & Belgium, traditional bank top performers in Spain are performant in Customer Journeys and Offers & Features, but are weak in Contact Channels

Key Finding n°1: BBVA, Bankia and Abanca are the 3 traditional banks that are playing in the same Digital Proposition category than digital-only banks

The overall Digital Proposition ranking (cf. Figure 2) is characterized by a Top 9 including all digital-only banks and 3 traditional banks.

BBVA is the leader in retail banking digital proposition in Spain. BBVA outperforms in customer journeys, digital features and digital access to banking offerings. However, BBVA is below market average in terms of contact channels with limited contact options for prospects.

Figure 2 - Overall Digital Proposition ranking of retail banks in Spain

N26 is ranked 2nd with the highest score in customer journeys. N26’s performance in Contact channels is above average, but it is at market average in terms of offers & features.

ING – ranked 3rd – is strong in offers & features, but at market average in customer journeys and contact channels.

Bankia – ranked 4th– I shows a good performance in customer journeys and contact channels, but is at market average in offers & features.

Openbank is ranked 5th with a high score in customer journeys. Offers and features are at market average. Contact channels are below average with limited contact options in the client private space and a low score in autonomous troubleshooting.

Evobanco – ranked 6th – provides the best performance in contact channels but is at market average in the other Digital Proposition domains.

Abanca – ranked 7th – and ImaginBank – ranked 9th - are above average in customer journeys but at market average in the other domains.

Revolut – ranked 8th – is strong in customer journeys but at market average in contact channels. Revolut’s offers & features score is penalized due to limited access to offerings on the web channel.

Key Finding n°2: The main gap of most traditional banks in Spain is related to digital CX easiness & efficiency – the area initially challenged by neo-banks

The graph below (cf. Figure 3) provides a structured vision of Digital Proposition performance by crossing:

  • Efficiency that is the average score of Customer Journeys and Contact Channels

  • Richness that is the Offers & Features score

Figure 3 - The Efficiency x Richness matrix

Four different areas can be observed in this matrix:

  • Area 4 where can be found brands that are outperformed in both richness and efficiency of the digital proposition. Banco Santander is located in this area.

  • Area 3 where are located strong performers in terms of richness that are however outperformed in efficiency. There is a risk here of investment sub-optimization by investing massively on advanced functionalities without a global thinking of the resulting journey. CaixaBank is positioned in this area

  • Area 2 where are located strong performers in terms of efficiency that are however outperformed by competition in terms of richness. It is the case of Revolut and ImaginBank, that are radically App-first banks that have chosen not to invest on the web channel.

  • Area 1 where can be found the top performers on both richness and efficiency. In this group, BBVA and ING are the leaders in richness and N26 is the leader in efficiency.

Most traditional banks – demonstrating a below average efficiency - are located in areas 3 and 4.

In the account opening journey (cf. figure 4) 5 banks out of the 16 evaluated ones did not offer a full digital opening process. For these 5 banks, a branch visit was required that did not necessarily increase the overall account opening process. For example, a branch visit was necessary with Banco Santander even though it was one of the two fastest banks to execute the overall account opening journey. On average, neobanks were not faster than traditional banks in the execution of the overall account opening journey. ING was the worst performer in this area.

Figure 4 - Efficiency & level of digitization of the account opening journey

A total of 67 daily banking features on web or app were reviewed in the context of this study. The figure below (cf. Figure 5) shows the results for the 16 brands in this area.

Neobanks are offering a large scope of features on app, but a limited one on web. 1st generation online banks and the best performing traditional banks in this area are strong both on app and on web. The Traditional banks with the lowest number of total features offer more app features than web ones, although they remain far from Neobanks’ app feature richness.

3 banks stand out in this area : BBVA, CaixaBank and ING.

Figure 5 - Number of available features among 67 reviewed ones

Key Finding n°3: Mortgage loans - a major tool for acquiring and retaining customers - is weakly promoted through digital channels

Despite low interest rates that penalize margins, mortgage loan remains a major tool for acquiring and retaining customers. This field is also very dynamic since the number of real estate transactions in Spain increased by 11.3% in volume between 2018 and 2019 according to INE (cf. Figure 6). Only 75% of sold properties are financed by retail banks in Spain (vs. 78% in 2016) which may indicate that there is room for improved market coverage.

This is an opportunity for Spanish banks to acquire and retain new customers, and develop their revenue.

Figure 6 - Market Coverage of issued Mortgage Loans

Promoting access to real estate credit through digital channels is therefore an essential challenge for online and traditional Spanish banks. It is also a relevant approach in response to neo-bank disruptions. While neo-banks’ efficiency of the account opening process is a fundamental factor of their acquisition process, their product range is often limited.

The matrix below (cf. Figure 7) shows the positioning of the 16 brands studied in to the light of these two acquisition enablers.

Figure 7 - Digital acquisition strategy: optimizing initial onboarding vs promoting mortgage loans

As compared to other markets, mortgage loans are weakly promoted through digital channels by retail banks in Spain. Naturally, all neobanks are focused on the initial onboarding process. No traditional bank stopped to compete on the initial onboarding performance to focus on the acquisition through mortgage loan, as we observed in France. Only 4 banks are active on both sides: Bankia, Ibercaja and the two 1st generation online banks.

On average, the 1st generation online banks outperform traditional banks on digital access to banking offerings.

Key Finding n°4: Compared to France & Belgium, the traditional bank top performer in Spain is good in Customer Journeys and Offers & Features, but is weak in Contact Channels

Comparatively to Belgium and France and by considering traditional banks only (cf. Figure 8), it is interesting to note that:

  • On customer journeys, the Spanish top performer - close to the Belgium one – outperforms significantly the French one.

  • On contact channels, the 3 countries show a comparable market average but the Spanish top performer is outperformed by the Belgium and the French ones.

  • On offers & features, the top performance is approximatively at the same level in the 3 countries, but the minimum performance in Spain is outperformed by the one in France

Figure 8 - Comparison of minimum/average/maximum scores of traditional banks in Spain, Belgium and France

In summary, it is specifically in contact channels that traditional banks in Spain show a specific pattern. In this area, the performance gap among traditional competitors in Spain is smaller than it is in France or in Belgium. Does that mean that digital contact channels are not considered by Spanish traditional banks as an opportunity to differentiate? This is a missed opportunity for traditional banks in Spain, potentially due to an underlying cost containment objective.

About D-Rating

Created in the beginning of 2017, D-rating is the first rating agency of companies’ digital performance.

D-Rating provides market stakeholders (buy-side/sell-side financial analysts, asset managers, fund managers and companies) with an independent rating that evaluates the digital competitiveness of a company that will potentially impact its future financial performance in the medium term.

Thanks to its innovative approach based on a data-driven methodology (700+ indicators analyzed), D-Rating is already a standard in the financial services sector and is today engaged in the deployment of its activities internationally and in multiple sectors.


#Dynamiquedetransformation #transformationdigitale #neobanques #neobanques #omnicanal #banquededétail


© D-Rating 2021