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Digital Footprint of French retail banks




What is the Digital Footprint of a company?


Digital Footprint is one of the four pillars of our ratings. It measures a company's impact  on the main digital territories: Web, mobile application, social media, connected objects. It is a performance index based on more than 160 quantitative criteria that highlights on one hand the power of the brand (relative to its client base) in these territories, the engagement level of its audience and, on the other hand, the quality of its presence and the public evaluations by its clients.





Historically active on the Web, banks now compete in new digital areas: Mobile Applications and Social Media. Will the arrival of new low-cost mobile only banks such as Orange Bank or N26 transform the French retail banking industry?



Retail banking in France remains dominated by traditional banks



Retail banking is a mature market (99% of French people own a bank account), held by established players (French banks solvability ratio – i.e. seed funding on risk – double in 5 years) with a strong territorial presence (57 banking branches for 100.000 inhabitants)[1]. With more than two thirds of the total net revenue of French banking sector[2], it remains the main pillar of the industry, far ahead of corporate and investment banking, asset management and insurance.


Retail banking keeps a good image in the eyes of French people: 78% of them declare having a good image of their bank and 60% that they prefer having an appointed advisor[3] which points out the significance of human contact and guidance, especially for investment products and mortgage loan subscriptions. Reliability, security and confidence matter more than the price.


The first-generation online banks did not succeed to capture the industry.


Having arrived in the early 2000s (end of the 90’s for some), the first-generation French online banks now barely represent 3% of the banking market. Even if today 4 or 5 out of 10 French people claim to be ready to subscribe to an online bank against 3 out of 10, 5 years ago[3], in reality only 21% of French people subscribe to a banking product online[4]. The numbers refer to current accounts and savings for a vast majority, while very few people (less than 10%) subscribe to investment products and mortgage loans.


Nevertheless, none of the first-generation online banks is independent. They are owned by big banking groups. None of them have proven to be profitable, both because of high client acquisition costs (price of opening bank accounts ranges from 50 to 150 euros), and the impact of the “legacy” operational models.



When will a disruption of the market happen?


The last months have shown an increasingly bigger number of signs that could foresee a disruption of the market soon.

Clients are more and more unfaithful and unsatisfied. Retail banking churn rate has doubled in 3 years to reach 4.3%. The youngest and the wealthiest are most likely to switch banks[5]. The “Loi Macron” which will be in action in February, concerns banking mobility and is forcing the banks to take care of all the formalities when the client asks to switch the bank. This can in turn accelerate the churn rate.


In parallel, we witness the first success of the neo-banks, built on innovated model.

  • Compte Nickel, the low-cost account distributed in tobacco stores, claims being profitable by this year. The neo-bank has reached more than 500.000 clients in a couple of years, and has been recently bought by BNP Paribas.

  • After a huge success in Germany, N26 arrived in France and became the first mobile-only bank.

  • Carrefour just launched C-Zam, a low-cost banking account available in store.

  • Orange Bank will be launched in July and will combine low-cost and mobile model.


The struggle on the new digital areas refers to all actors.


With the appearance of the neo-banks as well as new FinTech, traditional banks are also strengthening their positions on the new digital territories. D-Rating Digital Footprint study highlights a battle that is now taking place beyond the historical digital territory - the Web - and is developing in mobile applications and social networks (and possibly connected objects in a few years) territories. Once consequence of this battle is the surprising performance of traditional banks against their own online subsidiaries





Goals and scope of the report


This study analyses the Digital Footprint of 19 retail banks (12 traditional banks, 6 online banks and 1 neo-bank). For benchmarking purposes, three European banks are also included in the analysis: the Polish mBank is analyzed within the scope of its Polish business while N26 and Fidor are assessed for their activities in Germany.

The study assesses digital footprint (DF) of the retail banking sector by using more than 35.000 data points and analyzing them via a proprietary algorithm. The result is an Index which is comprise of DF Web, DF Mobile Applications, DF Social Networks.




Retail banking on the Web generates more than 270 million visits each month, one third of which from mobile devices. But banks are also present in the new digital areas. Each of them have at least one mobile application (9 on average) and are on two social networks (8 on average).



Online banks are more efficient on the Web.


On the Web, the digital performance of online banks and neo-banks is overall higher than that of traditional banks. The first ones represent around 6% of the French reta


il banking global traffic, twice as much as their market share.

Boursorama and Fortuneo, 2 online banks, together with Mbank, are at the Top 3 positions of the D-Rating “Digital Footprint Web” index. It is more unexpected to observe La Banque Postale and Crédit Agricole taking the 5th and 7th ranks, which is mostly due to a strong notoriety on the Web.

It is not unexpected to observe the “mobile-only” N26 to have weak performance on the Web index as the Web is just a showcase for them, while in reality everything happens on their mobile applications.




Advertisement on the Web is used more often by the online banks


The online banks consume more online ads (SEM, Display Ads) than their peers. They buy more than one third of the web traffic provided by the online ads.



The future of Web is clearly from mobile


Mobile web browsing is already responsible for 1/3 of web traffic and will stay a very important matter in the coming years.. It is not surprising to see that a vast majority of French banks are fitted with responsive websites providing an adapted navigation for all types of screen sizes. Only 3 out of 19 French retail banks analyzed by D-Rating did not have responsive sites.

Beautiful revenge: traditional banks lead on the new digital territories


Overwhelmed by the strong Web position of the “pure-digital” players, big traditional banks took some strong position on the new digital territories (Mobile Apps and Social media).

For the mobile apps, they show better performance in terms of engagement and client satisfaction. While the average mark obtained by the mobile apps of French banks on the “stores” during the last 12 months are around 3 out of 5, Boursorama and B for Bank do not even go over 2 out of 5.


In contrast, CIC and LCL respectively obtained the best rates on Android (3,9/5) and iOS (4,1/5) getting closer to the European digital banks mBank and N26, which are leaders o


n the same basis (mBank got a 4,3 on iOS and 4,6 on Android).

Globally, on social networks, we can see two strategies: one centered on the creation of an active community, and another focusing on the social media generated traffic.

While Hello Bank appears as the best performer on D-Rating Social Networks index, all the other online banks struggle in front of the traditional banks.






A battle on two fronts. There is a chance that the arrival of the neo-banks such as N26 and Orange Bank on the banking market will deeply modify digital footprint of the French retail banks and increase the competition on the two areas: Web and Mobile applications.



In total, French retail banking Digital Footprint include more than 35.000 points of data collected by D-Rating thanks to owned bots (“crawlers”), external data suppliers (AdWords, Ahrefs, Alexa, AppAnnie, Google PageSpeed, PowerMapper, SEOReviewTool, SimilarWeb, SSLShopper, WebPageTest) along with additional specific analysis (Store analysis, social networks presence, etc.).



To access to the full report, please contact us at contact@d-rating . com





[1] Fédération Bancaire Française, Chiffres Clés, 2017


[2] ACPR, 2015: 67,1% Retail banking, 18,2% Corporate and investment banking, 14,6% Asset management and insurance


[3] Baromètre BVA, Image des Banques, July 2015


[4] Opinionway-Solucom survey, December 2014


[5] Bain & Co study with 15.000 clients, 2016









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