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What makes this Polish bank the digital leader of Europe

23/01/2018

mBank, a Polish “traditional” bank, takes the first place in our assessment of 51 retail banks (48 in Europe and 3 in US) on the level of traffic and engagement over main digital territories (Web, Social media and Mobile apps). In this article, I address the Polish retail banking market and try to explain how mBank achieved a leading position in comparison with the retail banks in the 5 largest European countries.

 

 

About mBank and the Polish market

 

mBank is operating in Poland since 1986. It is the 4th largest bank in the Polish market in terms of total assets and has transformed itself into a digital first bank in 2013[1], while still maintaining its branch network. It has 5,5 million retail clients and 1,5 million active users of mobile banking[2].

 

Poland is the largest economy in Central and Eastern Europe. According to Eurostat, its economy has been one of the fastest growing among the EU Member States. At the end of 2016, 33.2 million Polish clients had access to online banking services, a 9.3% increase in comparison to the fourth quarter of 2015. Mobile payments are also increasing their share of transactions. In 2016, the number of transactions made with cards increased by 17% compared to 2015 and their value grew by 15%. The number and value of instant fund transfers increased by 112% and 62%, respectively, in 2016[3].

 

The Polish banking sector is dominated by foreign-owned institutions, which hold majority stakes in most commercial banks, totaling 55% of the sector’s assets (52 institutions)[4]. mBank itself is a subsidiary of the German Commerzbank.

 

Do any external factors explain mBank’s digital performance?

 

We questioned if mBank could have become a digital leader because of a strong penetration of online banking* or a high digital performance of mBank’s mother company. None of them are true. 

 

 

 

  • In terms of online banking penetration, Poland is behind all countries except for Italy

 

 

 

  • The 3 largest banks in Poland together generate less web traffic than does mBank alone.

 

 

  • mBank is a subsidiary of German Commerzbank. Their digital channels activities score is significantly inferior to that of mBank.

     

Before trying to explain the reasons of their strong performance, let’s look exactly how mBank achieves a superior rating in our study

 

 

The large number of website visits is a strong area for mBank not only in comparison with its domestic, but also European peers. The average web traffic score for the selected countries is 26, versus mBank’s impressive 73.

 

The bank is very efficient in sourcing traffic from unpaid sources. The main website, mBank.pl, is generating more than 60% of its traffic via direct visitors[5]. Moreover, in comparison with all the analyzed banks, mBank is very efficient in terms of traffic generation from non-paid sources, being well above average in each criteria, while below average in terms of traffic from paid sources.

 

 

 

 

Although web is where mBank excels the most, their digital channels usage efficiency is not limited to that area only.  The bank has a strong position in terms of mobile applications use as well.

 

The strongest area where mBank is winning points is the client satisfaction from the mobile applications, where both on IOS and on Android the bank’s average 12 month rating is above average in each European country selected for our study.

 

 

 

 

The average rating with comments (in 1 year period) of mBank apps in the application stores is 4,1 against the average of 3,8 in the selected European countries.

 

mBank’s apps are downloaded and rated in a higher pace than the average of their European peers. mBank’s engagement score (downloads, number of ratings etc.) is more than double the average score of the selected European banks.  

 

It is also interesting to see how they are approaching social media usage. They are generating an expressively larger number of traffic to their website from the social media than their European peers, while leaving the social media engagement at a lower than average level.

 

 

 

 

 

Some clues to how mBank achieved its superior position

 

While it is hard to give a full picture of how the bank achieved a leading position, there are a number of things that we find interesting. Since their transformation in 2013, they put digital at the core of their interactions with customers. While money transfers via Facebook and mobile phones are latest innovations for a large number of European banks, mBank customers could use mobile numbers or social media connections to make transfers via mobile phones or Facebook since 5 years ago[6]. Another innovation by mBank ahead of the market is that since 3 years the bank’s customers could have loan approvals in 30 seconds via their iPhones and communicate with customer service agents via Skype. No paper statements were offered to the clients. Amount of sales made online or through call centers stood at a figure of 86% in comparison with 20% in the western countries[7].  

 

As of 2015, more than 70 per cent of mBank’s customers were younger than 40, against 43 per cent of the same age group in Poland’s banking market[8]

 

Through time the advanced digital services could have built the strong notoriety among their digitally native customer base.

 

The bank’s mobile and online banking systems have advanced to a level that the bank is currently at a position to outsource them to other financial institutions outside Poland, and the first partner is La Banque Postale  in France[9]. This unique project for Poland, called mBox, is delivered in partnership with Accenture, which provides support to the buyer in implementing the project.

 

*Please note that to achieve the digital channels activity score, the underlying data has been weighted against the internet penetration and not the online banking penetration

 

 

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Digital channels activity score is a part of the full assessment of the digital performance of enterprises. Full assessment is based on 4 modules: Digital Footprint, Client Experience, Leadership and Culture and Processes and Tools. 

 

 

 

 

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