Following its yearly tradition, D-Rating has completed its rating campaign of digital performance for 2022 regarding the Digital Proposition module. This particular study looks up every item, digital initiative and services offered to the clients on the digital channels’ web and app.
The data for this study regards more than 300 indicators, collected collaboratively with “mystery shoppers” that are clients of the banks tested in the market.
The scope for the year 2022, includes both “traditional” actors that are established in the banking scene, but also neobanks and “newbies” challenging the status quo in their specific field. This panel has been chosen to reflect the market landscape and include the needs of our clients in terms of competition.
Digital Proposition Belgium’s Results
The Belgian market has matured throughout the years since our first study done in 2018. An observation can be made regarding the high performance of certain banks that have managed to develop their application and question the viability of neobanks competitive advantage.
With the exit of Axa Bank, the IT integration of ING Belgium and NL, the upcoming acquisition of Bpost Bank by BNPP and the slow decline of Aion’s offerings, it is safe to say that the established banks with branches have dodged the neobanks and PSPs bullets and outperformed them conquering the rankings of Digital Proposition year after year.
The top 3 is in order: KBC Bank, Belfius and ING Belgium.
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KBC and Belfius are accustomed to the top 3 position. Both of the banks have scored in high in all 3 domains of Digital Proposition: Offers & Journeys, Customer Support and Features. Each of the banks have developed what we can call a “specialty”. KBC is now notorious for its wide range of offers and features accessible through its mobile application KBC Mobile, and the way it represents one of the most accomplished incarnation of the “super-Apps” concept (even including specific contents related to the Jupiler League soccer championship). Offers referred to in our study include: Mortgage loan, personal loan, share account, cashback, junior account, etc. Whereas Belfius, performs really high in access to offers from the web personal space.
A new addition to the top 3 this year, making an entrance to the top of the ranking is ING Belgium. The efforts made in the last couple of years integrating the platforms of ING Netherlands and its subsidiary in Belgium.
The best in their lane
The Digital Proposition score aggregates 3 domain score:
Offers & Journeys includes access to offers from web and mobile application as a customer to main banking products and also the digitization of the account opening process (on-boarding) as an entry point to the banks’ services. The best performer of this domain is KBC Bank, as explained earlier, it has scored the best in access to offers from its mobile application to mortgage loan, personal loan and share account. It is one of rare banks in Europe to offers “beyond banking features” allowing its users to book tables at restaurants, buy transport tickets or even checkout sport’s results. KBC’s super app strategy combined with its fluid hustle-free account opening makes it the best in this domain.
Customer Support maps out the help tools provided to customers either to reply to and instant need through chats, chatbots and FAQs or an expertise need with inbox, contact forms, callbacks and appointment scheduling. The best performer is Beobank, with its outstanding appointment scheduling journey, offering the possibility to book a remote call via video with a branch advisor regarding a specific topic. This “novelty” paired with the already performing chat and inbox makes the Beobank’s client support highest ranked in Belgium.
Features domain lists for both the app and the web, the existing functionalities pertaining to account management, card setting, PFM and budgeting or even sustainability or biometric authentication tools. Unsurprisingly, Revolut is the best performer in features, scoring highest with innovative initiatives such as its subscription manager allowing to switch on and off subscription bills, or its Revolut Shopper Google Extension, searching the best prices and deals while you shop online.
Features buzzing not necessarily spreading
Trending features have been on a lot of banks target lately; ranging from Supper App lingo with beyond banking features to sustainability with carbon footprint simulators. The reality of the matter is that these features haven’t yet been deployed to the same extent they are talked about.
On the other hand, what we see through our market alert tool (developed internally by our teams, that allows banks to get notified of application updates showing newly added features of the other competition) is that the main areas that have been subject to updates by Belgian banks for 2022 include features related to cards, transfer, account management, online subscription and contact tools.
Belgium: a banking market close to maturity
With 93% of the population using the Internet according to the World Bank, Belgium is one of the world’s most advanced countries in terms of the digitalization of banking practices, in particular, and where competition between brands to win customers via digital channels has been going on for some time.
But just as the market has entered a phase of consolidation (takeovers of Axa Bank and Bpost, gradual exit of Aion, and the IT integration of ING BE and NL), the priority today seems to be to include Web and mobile in strategies to build loyalty in the existing base and create value, rather than policies of all-out conquest.
Through the monitoring tools it has developed, D-Rating notes that the Top 5 innovations made by Belgian banks to their applications in 2022 (50% of the total alone) have all been related to the first dimensions, and none to the commercial relationship entry path. Similarly, among the 222 European banking applications whose usage is monitored by D-Rating, from 14 countries, Belgium is, along with the Scandinavian region, the only one where the number of users – and therefore customers – has decreased between Q4 2021 and the same period in 2022.
The shift in usage towards digital banking, on the other hand, appears to be continuing. For everyday banking (with an increase in the average number of sessions per month and per user) but also for the management of more involving operations (increase in the average duration of sessions)
While the market seems particularly mature, this does not rule out any movement of customers, especially to the benefit of market challengers.
While Beobank (+12% of users of its mobile banking applications between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022) and Hello Bank! (+5%) seem to have particularly benefited from this, KBC (-8%) and ING Belgium (-9%) are the worst performers among the leaders.
And in terms of the level of digital adoption, for day-to-day operations and beyond, the developments noted for Belfius (+10% in the number of sessions per user and +7% in the duration of these connections) are in line with the improvement in the digital proposition score recorded by D-Rating for the bank. Similarly, Beobank, whose customer support tools D-Rating notes as being of the highest quality, recorded a significant increase in the length of time its customers spend online. The observations are more mixed when it comes to KBC and ING.
In particular, the strong investment of the former in « beyond banking » services does not allow for an increase in the connection time allocated to it by its customers (in decline).