This report presents the assessment and ranking of 13 retail banks in the Belgian market, based on 150+ indicators that measure the level of usage of their digital channels (web, mobile apps & social networks) in the context of their relationship with prospects & clients.
D-Rating’s unique model analyses 3 complementary areas of digital performance
(cf. Figure 1):
Digital Proposition – delivered in July 2019 – measures the digitization level of the bank’s offerings, the effectiveness of its digital communication channels, and the performance of the digital client journey related to everyday banking activities.
Usage Status – this article’s main topic – measures the client and prospect usage of digital channels (Web, Mobile Apps and Social Networks) as well as the degree of satisfaction reported by those users.
Transformation Dynamics – will be delivered in January 2020 – assesses the bank’s efforts and ability to execute digital transformation through talent attraction, technologies, innovation and operational integration.
This article presents the analysis of the digital Usage Status of the Retail Banking sector in Belgium.
For all 13 banks, this analysis required the assessment of 45 websites, 145 mobile and PWA applications, and 271 social networks and messaging services. These digital channels attract over 1.6 billion visits per month, a figure that much higher than that of France where 21 banks generate about 1 billion visits per month, or even in Spain, where 25 banks generate about 650 million monthly visits.
The definition of « usage status » as developed by D-Rating goes beyond the mere measure of traffic volume : we also analyze the origins of the traffic, the activity levels of the banks on each channel, the amount of interactions generated, as well as the level of satisfaction expressed by the users on each channel.
Four main key findings were brought forward by this analysis:
A clear acceleration of neobanks in 2019
Revolut is the leader in App usage
Web performance in Belgium surpasses the best standards in France and Spain
1. A clear acceleration of neobanks in 2019
The 2019 ranking highlights the outperformance of Revolut and N26, in the usage level of their digital channels (see Figure 2). This performance is attributed in particular to their record rates of acquisition of new customers: 200% for N26 and 60% for Revolut between 2018 and 2019. Naturally, these figures must be considered while keeping in mind the relative small market share of N26 and Revolut
Figure 2 - 2019 ranking of retail banks in Belgium,
in terms of digital channels usage
Several major movements were noticed in 2019:
Revolut - ranked 1st. Revolut was included in D-Rating’s 2019 panel following the acquisition of its banking license in December 2018. With a “radically App” channel model, the neobank earns the highest score in terms of consolidated traffic (relative to its size) and performance on the App channel, far ahead of the remaining players.
N26 is ranked 2nd with a score close to Revolut’s. N26’s performance is balanced across the different digital channels. N26 has the highest score on the web channels Social Networks.
Belfius is ranked 3rd and has gained 3 spots. Belfius' performance remained fairly stable in a context where BNPP Fortis/HB! and ING Belgium have declined significantly on the App channel.
KBC/CBC is ranked 4th with a score close to Belfius’, and just like Belfius, KBC/CBC stands out with a dominance on the App channel.
Keytrade Bank is ranked 5th with a score very close to those of Belfius and KBC/CBC. Keytrade Bank stands out with a dominant web channel and, proportionally to its size, above-average consolidated traffic.
Bpost Bank loses 4 spots with a decrease in traffic and engagement on its web channel.
2. Revolut is the leader in App Usage
Revolut outperforms the other players in terms of the level of use of the App channel in all three retail banking markets assessed by D-Rating in 2019: France, Belgium, and Spain (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 - Comparison of App Usage Level Scores in Belgium, France and Spain
Despite the apparent consistency of the Revolut App score in different countries, there are actually a few specificities found on the Belgian market. More specifically, Revolut does not achieve in Belgium the level of performance on app store ratings observed in France and Spain (see Figure 4).
With a score of 3.9 /5 in Belgium, Revolut is positioned 3rd on this indicator behind Belfius and KBC/CBC. In France, however, Revolut is ranked 1st on this indicator with a record score of 4.8 / 5 and in Spain with 4.5 / 5.
Nevertheless, this lower satisfaction is offset by a proportionately higher level of traffic and engagement in the Belgian market.
3. Web performance in Belgium surpasses the best standards in France and Spain
N26 and Keytrade Bank (respectively scoring 44 and 37) are the two best performing banks on the Web channel usage in Belgium.
These top performers are significantly below the average market in France (see Figure 5) with a lower level of traffic and engagement on the Web channel proportionally to the number of customers. This is consistent with the current highly App-oriented market but can also reflect a lower engagement level with prospects.
It is also interesting to note that the usage level of the Web channel in Belgium is a smaller differentiating factor than in France or Spain as the difference between maximum and minimum scores is significantly smaller in Belgium.
4. Social networks engagement is on the decline
N26 is the bank with the best performance on social networks, far ahead of Revolut (ranked 2nd in social networks) and BNP Paribas / HB! (ranked 3rd). N26 is characterized with a much stronger generation of web traffic from social networks. This demonstrates N26's ability to leverage its social networks presence to generate customer acquisition.
Overall, in 2019 there was a decline in traffic and engagement generated by social networks. More specifically, interactions on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have decreased by nearly 25% since 2018. Despite the continuously growing number of followers on Facebook and YouTube, the number of interactions per follower has dropped significantly (see Figure 6). This trend, which was also observed in France, could reveal the first signs of weakening of this channel for retail banks.
About the methodology
The 13 retail banks of the panel are listed in the following chart.
The data used in this analysis was collected over a 12-month period between 8/1/2018 and 7/31/2019 for Web & App channels, and over the last six months for social media channels, in order to eliminate any seasonality effect.
Depending on the weight determined in the D-Rating methodology, each data point corresponding to an indicator is converted into a score between 0 and 100 using the Minimum and Maximum scores of the industry as points of reference.
Indicators with the highest impact were weighed by the total number of customers of each brand, which allows an objective digital performance comparison regardless of the scale of the brand. The number of clients was determined through internal research, either based on publicly available information, or using our internal sizing methodology.
This 2019 edition was subject to a number of methodological updates and enhancements. For example, a new “Consolidated Traffic” domain was added. This new domain, with its 6 new indicators, provides a view on the traffic of both Web and App combined. Additionally, more than 50 new indicators were added, including some related to brands’ online reputation and user sentiment, number of mobile app sessions, and the level of “reach” on social media.
The scores mentioned in this report are “global scores”, allowing an immediate comparison among the retail banks in all three of the assessed markets in 2019: France, Belgium and Spain.
Beyond the content of this article, D-Rating subscribers have access via the D-Rating platform to all the scores of the 150 indicators of each of the 13 brands evaluated.
Created in early 2017 with the support of BPI France, D Rating is the leading rating agency for companies' digital performance.
The impact of digital technology on the economy has been the subject of numerous studies, all of which highlight the importance for companies to transform themselves in depth and adapt to the new uses and challenges of the digitalization of the economy. D-Rating aims to contribute to accelerating the digital transformation of European companies by providing a shared reference framework for all market players and by equipping companies to better understand their transformation and optimize the allocation of capital according to digital performance criteria.