Belgium is one of the pioneers of a cashless society, with 90% of transactions in the country done electronically. Therefore, it’s best banks are demonstrating excellent online and mobile banking tools
Belgian banking system is considered one of the most sophisticated and liberalized in the world. The majority of banking institutions nationwide are the subsidiaries of foreign banks, while only about 16% of banks are native.
Here is the list of the top banks in Belgium rated by total assets.
1.BNP Paribas Fortis. Total Assets: €2.6T
2.KBC. Total Assets: €351.8B
3. Belfius. Total Assets: €187.9B
4. ING Belgium. Total Assets: €162.3B
5. Argenta Spaarbank. Total Assets: €52.4B
6. The Bank of New York Mellon SA/NV. Total Assets: €32.8B
7. AXA Bank Belgium. Total Assets: €30B
BNP Paribas Fortis
BNP Paribas Fortis offers a comprehensive range of financial products and services to individuals including high-net-worth individuals, private entrepreneurs, professionals, SMEs and large institutions. The traditional retail and investment banking services are supplemented by leasing, cash management, export financing, private equity, and corporate finance. BNP Paribas Real Estate subsidiary also offers real estate services (transactions, advice, assessment, asset and investment management) to its professional and institutional customers, investors and real estate developers.Hello bank! is the mobile brand of BNP Paribas Fortis, offering an all-inclusive free current account and a number of paid services.
In Q1 2021, Belgian retail banking revenues were down by 3.0% compared to the first quarter 2020, at €858 million. Gross operating income, at €23 million, was down by 57.2% compared to the first quarter 2020. However, if one speaks of the international Paribas group, as a whole, both the revenues and the operating income increased in 2021 (by 8.6% and 79%, respectively).
KBC is an international bank-insurer formed in 1998 after the merger of two Belgian banks (Kredietbank and CERA Bank) and a Belgian insurance company (ABB Insurance). The institution offers retail banking, insurance and asset management, corporate banking, private banking, leasing, factoring, reinsurance, private equity, project and trade finance, etc. It has 12 million clients, about 1300 bank branches and hundreds of insurance agents. Their highly-rated mobile app also incorporates third-party non-banking services like paying for parking or public transportation. Since the end of November 2020, private customers at KBC have been able to use the services of Kate, their customized digital assistant in KBC Mobile. The algorithm already understands 90% of questions asked, but can’t always link them to a solution. Its advanced version is not a simple chat bot, but a true personal assistant that gives sound financial advice analyzing your individual factors.
In Q1 2021, KBC in Belgium reported a net profit of €380 million. It’s down 4% compared to the last quarter of 2020, although in other regional markets the profits have grown. However, excluding bank taxes (which are recorded in the first quarter and hence distort the quarter-on-quarter comparison), the result went up 55% due to the combined effect of higher total income, lower costs excluding bank taxes, and a net reversal of loan loss impairment (compared to a net addition in the previous quarter). Total income of the KBC Group increased by 7% quarter-on-quarter to €1.93B.
Belfius is a state-owned bank. It was nationalized in 2011, after its former owner Dexia saw the liquidity problems mounted for the second time. This bank-insurer caters to financial needs of individuals and businesses, offering retail banking, asset management, insurance, customer support on the capital markets, private equity, institutional investments, leasing, and cash flow management for almost all local authorities. Currently, the number of bank’s customers is over 3.7 million and they can get assistance at 590 local Belfius branches, modern interaction platform, Belfius Connect, and a large number of automatic self-banking machines. The bank also responded to Covid-19 restrictions with the proactive approach to digital banking. At the end of 2020, Belfius apps for smartphones and tablets had 1.58 million users (+12%), of which 128,000 over 65 years of age (+34%). Due to the partnership between Belfius and Proximus, a provider of digital services and communication, Proximus customers will have access to an exclusive and innovative digital banking offer via the neobank “Banx byBelfius”.
The latest financial report published by Belfius covers annual 2020 results. The total income reached €2.6B, an increase of 5% despite the extremely difficult financial environment, whereas net income before tax was €679 million.
ING Belgium, former Banque Bruxelles Lambert (BBL) has been a part of ING Group since 1998. It was created as a result of the merger of two banks with 150+ years of history. The bank today offers daily banking, lending, savings, investments, insurance and retirement services to individuals, businesses, and public institutions. There are about 650 branches of ING Belgium across the country, serving about 3 million customers. In addition, almost two million customers manage their banking affairs online, in the ING Banking app and via ING Home’Bank. Since March 2021, the app users can also use OneView subscription manager with an innovative “Switch” feature. It allows you to check on current and dormant subscriptions based on your account information and recurrent payments, manage them automatically in-app without personal contacts with the subscription provider and administrative chores, compare energy suppliers or mobile providers and make the switch to a greener energy package immediately.
ING Belgium posted a pre-tax result of €269 million in 2020, while increasing loan loss provisions by €589 million. As for the ING Group, it reported 1Q 2021 result before tax of €1,463 million, +50% vs 1Q 2020.
Argenta Group provides retail financial services for families in Belgium and the Netherlands through Argenta Spaarbank (banking) and Argenta Assuranties (insurance). Argenta was founded in 1956 by Karel Van Rompuy as a company specializing in personal loans. Until today, the Van Rompuy family is still the majority shareholder. Argenta Spaarbank was established in 1966 and the range of offered services was diversified. The bank serves over 1.7 million customers with savings, lending, insurance and investments solutions. The group operates in Belgium through an extensive network of local self-employed tied agents. As for the digital services, the use of Argenta’s app increased by 20% year-on-year to 560,000. Today, the bank is also partnering with Cake – the Belgian bank-independent app that allows to manage accounts from different banks – to allow Argenta customers to enjoy the Cake cashbacks without having to install the Cake banking app.
In its annual 2020 report, Argenta disclosed the net profit at group level in IFRS amounts rising to €219 million, up €45 million vs 2019 results. Much of this increase was due to the sale of the Dutch insurance portfolio, which produced a one-off net profit of €19.6 million. However, after adjusting for this one-off effect, there still remained a solid result of €196 million.
The Bank of New York Mellon SA/NV
BNY Mellon is an American investment banking services holding company headquartered in New York City. It is one of the oldest banking corporations globally, and the world’s largest custodian bank and asset servicing company, with $2.2 trillion in assets under management and $41.7 trillion in assets under custody as of the first quarter of 2021. The Bank of New York Mellon SA/NV is the official European bank entity of BNY Mellon in Europe. It provides financial services, primarily comprising asset servicing products focused on global custody and collateral management, to international securities market participants. On June 29, 2021, BNY Mellon announced its intention for Björn Storim to succeed Leonique van Houwelingen as CEO of the Bank of New York Mellon SA/NV (“the European Bank”), as a part of its an ambitious growth strategy, delivering innovative solutions and seamless access to the bank’s global capabilities.
AXA Bank Belgium
AXA Bank Belgium is the sixth Belgian bank by assets (30 billion euros, of which 24 billion euros are loans to customers). It offers a range of banking products for private and professional customers. This mainly concerns loans, investment solutions, current banking transactions and securities accounts. As of January 1, 2021, the bank had 825 employees and distributed its products to 860,000 customers through a network of 400 independent banking branches spread across Belgium. AXA Bank Belgium is part of AXA Group. There is no direct link between AXA Bank Belgium and the other banking activities of AXA Group in France and Germany.
According to its annual report, net profit of AXA Bank Belgium in 2020 comprised €65.6 million. Total equity was €1.2B while total liabilities and equity exceeded €30B. Net cash flow from operating activities equaled €2.7B. Operating assets decreased by 1,192.0 million EUR, leading to an increase in cash flows. Cash and cash equivalents increased by 2,689 million EUR in 2020, mainly due to an increase in cash and balances with central banks (+ 2670.5 million EUR) and an increase in financial assets at amortised cost (nostro accounts) of 30.5 million EUR.