This report presents the assessment and ranking of 21 retail banks in the French 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.
As part of this analysis, 186 websites, 418 mobile apps and 795 social media accounts were assessed. Websites and mobile app channels combined generated during the period of test about 1 billion monthly visits for the panel of 21 banks assessed in this report.
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.
D-Rating’s methodology relies on a relative scoring, meaning that the scores are based on the group of banks taken into account in the study. A high score indicates a higher than average digital relationship between the bank and its prospects & clients. Consequently, the Usage Status score is an important score that complements D-Rating’s Digital Proposition score (see our last report – Digital Proposition of retail banks in France).
Usage Status measures the effectiveness of the digital client experience developed by banks. More specifically, the outperformance in Usage Status can have a positive impact on client acquisition and retention as well on the optimization on overall operational costs.
In 2019, D-Rating conducted the Usage Status analysis in 3 retail banking markets, France, Belgium and Spain, hence allowing a cross-country comparison. This report on the French market has benefited from a few methodological enhancements.
Four main key findings were brought forward by this analysis:
The leading five banks are online banks and neobanks exclusively
Banks’ channel strategies tend to be more and more Apps-oriented, although the scores in the domain of Apps are rather fragmented
Social media usage tends to decrease
Two major challenges are at stake: for traditional banks, converting clients to digital channels ; for online and neo banks, transforming prospects & new clients into active clients
1. The leading five banks are online banks and neobanks exclusively
Fortuneo Banque, Hello Bank!, Orange Bank, N26 and Revolut. For the first time since the launch of this report, the 2019 ranking of retail banks in France in the digital channels’ usage status area shows a top 5 with online banks and neobanks only. This performance is partially attributed to a record high client acquisition by neobanks between 2018 and 2019: +200% for N26, +148% for Orange Bank, and +127% for Revolut.
Several changes can be observed in this year’s rankings:
Fortuneo Banque moved from the second to the first position. Fortuneo’s performance lies mostly within the Web channel with a 10% increase on the web traffic. Fortuneo has also recorded a progress on the App channel with an important increase on satisfaction scores in the application stores.
Hello Bank! has demonstrated a remarkable jump forward by gaining 7 spots and is ranked #2. Hello Bank has recorded a strong progress on the Web domain, with a 60% increase in traffic for a 23% increase in its client base. Hello Bank’s Web satisfaction score is also progressing, with an increased number of reviews during the last 12 months. Hello Bank’s traffic on the App domain has also significantly increased, however the brand’s satisfaction score on the stores remains below the panel’s average.
Orange Bank is ranked #3 with a strategy definitely focused on the App channel, where the bank’s overall performance is well above average with a high activity level in the stores. The satisfaction score expressed on the application stores has progressed slightly and is close to the average. Orange’s number of unique monthly visitors (Web + App) is 3 times above average.
N26 and Revolut – unsurprisingly, the 2 neobanks are ranked among the top performers. While N26’s performance is balanced between the Web and App channels, Revolut is more radically centered on the App channel. Revolut is the best performer on the App channel with a record satisfaction score of 4.8/5 (ratings with comments over the last 12 months),
The 2 brands of BPCE group have both recorded a significant jump forward in the overall ranking: as compared to the 2018 rankings, Banque Populaire has gained 9 spots and Caisse d’Epargne 6 spots. This striking performance is addressed to their significant progress on the App domain. Specifically, the two brands had the highest increase on the App satisfaction score, placing them immediately behind Revolut on the 2nd and 3rd positions.
Two players have seen their positions significantly downgraded as compared to their 2018 results:
HSBC France was pushed back by 9 spots with a decrease on its Web and App scores.
Boursorama Banque lost 6 spots due to a decreased score on the Web traffic despite a 30% increase of its client base. Boursorama Banque is also progressing more slowly than the other players on the App domain.
2. Banks’ channel strategies tend to be more and more Apps-oriented, although the scores in the domain of Apps are rather fragmented
According to this 2019 study, the average consolidated traffic (Web + App) per bank, weighed by its number of clients, is 14 monthly visits, of which 11 are on the App channel alone. This finding demonstrates the importance of the App channel and its ability to offer the client easy access to banking services anywhere and anytime.
Furthermore, we have observed a trend toward increasing usage of mobile apps, although all players are not engaged in this direction.
The following chart shows the positioning of retail banks in France from a “channel orientation of usages” perspective (vertical axis) crossed with a “channel orientation of functionalities” perspective (horizontal axis).
The “Channel orientation of Usages” indicates the proportion of Web vs. App visits for each brand, while the “Channel orientation of Functionalities” indicates the proportion of Web vs. App functionalities among the 69 ones evaluated in D-Rating’s prior report “2019 Digital Proposition of Retail Banks in France”. In other words, a bank whose clients are mostly app users will be located on the upper half of the chart, while a bank whose clients are mostly web users will be on the bottom half. Similarly, a bank with a higher score on App features rather than on Web features will be on the right-hand side of the chart, while a bank with a stronger emphasis on Web features will be on the left-hand side.
Based on this chart, four different groups of banks were identified:
Three “Radically app first banks”: Revolut, Orange Bank and Boursorama Banque, which have reached a consistent App orientation as their functional assets are mostly focused on the app, which is also the channel that is the mostly used by their prospects & clients.
One “Radically web first” bank: Crédit du Nord, which has also reached a consistent orientation: its functional assets are focused on the web channel, which is the main channel used by its prospects & clients.
One bank at risk of client frustration and attrition: ING France. Here most of the functional assets are focused on the Web channel, whereas ING’s clients are definitely app users. This observation is consistent with ING’s low app satisfaction score.
Lastly, a group of banks positioned in the middle with a less bold App vs Web differentiation. However, 4 players appear to be in the midst of a transformation phase toward a more App- focused orientation: Caisse d’Epargne, Banque Populaire, Société Générale et Crédit Mutuel. The functional assets of these 4 brands are heavily centered towards apps with the probable objective of migrating their clients into an app-centered usage behavior.
3. Social media usage tends to decrease
The best performing banks on social media are N26 et Crédit Agricole. Crédit Agricole maintains a competitive advantage in this area, with the increase of Web traffic originated from social media.
Although the total number of followers has been increasing year-over-year, the number of interactions declined in 2019. Similarly, the Web generated traffic from social media has decreased along with the level of social media engagement. For example, the total number of interactions on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube has decreased by nearly 25% since 2018. This trend could be an early sign of a decreasing impact of social media channels on the relationship with prospects & clients for retail banks in France.
4. Two major challenges are at stake: for traditional banks, converting clients to digital channels ; for online and neo banks, transforming prospects & new clients into active clients
The analysis of the Web + App consolidated traffic, presented in the chart below, shows substantial disparities of performance in terms of:
Number of Web + App monthly unique visitors proportionally to the number of clients (horizontal axis)
Number of Web + App total monthly sessions per unique visitor (vertical axis).
Most online and neo banks (with the exception of ING France) are located in the C area. These banks share a high number of monthly unique visitors, but a low frequency of visits for each visitor. These banks are currently in a heavy client acquisition phase, which here is expressed as a high number of unique visitors, a large proportion of whom are prospects. The main challenge for these banks is converting prospects & new clients into active clients, by becoming their main banking services provider.
The B and D areas combined hold all traditional banks, which share a lower number of unique visitors proportionally to their number of clients. The main challenge for these banks is to increase the adoption rate of digital channels by their clients. This would require, for example, involving physical branches in the promotion and support of digital channels. The traditional banks in the B area have been able to achieve a higher digital usage frequency of their already digitally savvy clients. ING’s position in this upper-left quadrant is rather astonishing ; potentially, the number of clients claimed by the bank (over 1 million) includes a significant proportion of non-active clients.
Lastly, the upper-right quadrant – or A area – hosts Revolut alone, which is the only bank in France that was able to achieve high number of unique visitors with high digital usage frequency. This result combined with Revolut’s excellent app satisfaction score positions the brand as a leader in digital client acquisition.
About the methodology
The 21 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 7/1/2018 and 8/31/2019 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.
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.