Mobile banking in Belgium: an applications review [infographic]

To kick off our 2014 #appslunch sessions, we explored the world of mobile banking and tested 5 Belgian mobile banking apps. Our approach was to test the apps only on mobile devices – no tablets – focusing on the Big Five: KBC, ING, AXA, Belfius and BNP Paribas (we did not include Hello Bank). Next to the Big Five we took a look at Keytrade Bank to see how a smaller bank compares to the big ones but – because of its different focus (online, business, investments) – we did not include this bank in the infographic comparison. Have a look at our infographic for a comparison and read our extensive impressions below.

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Our first overall conclusion is that the Belgian mobile bank apps we tested offer very similar functionalities. The differences are to be found in usability and extra features.

Activating your mobile bank account

While most banks offer a relatively simple activation procedure with a card reader, bank card and password, BNP Paribas Fortis has developed a more complicated activation procedure with profile creation, SMS confirmation and strong password settings. Keytrade Bank on the other hand has its own particular system to activate and connect to the mobile banking app using a security dongle. Users always have to carry this security dongle in order to use the app.

Connect

Besides Keytrade Bank, who uses the same username and password to connect to the app as the ones for desktop online banking, all banks ask the user to create a new password that is different from the bank card pin code. Different pin codes and passwords for various devices certainly help secure your bank account, but having to remember them does not contribute to a high usability score.

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Every app looks different

Transferring Money

For an overview of bank accounts and transfers, all apps offer similar functionalities. Notice that ING allows you to transfer the biggest amount of money through mobile and Keytrade Bank scores a big plus on usability by offering a nice and tidy drag and drop function for transactions. Note that we only compared transferring money from usability point of view, meaning without the use of a card reader; e.g. BNP Paribas Fortis offers the possibility to transfer €25.000 per week via their application when using the card reader and personal pincode.

 

Besides the traditional online transactions various banks offer easy and fast (NFC) technology solutions for easy transferring. KBC developed its own “Scash” system using ‘scash codes’ (derived from QR codes), Keytrade bank has the KeyKash application while BNP Paribas Fortis integrated Easy Transfer, allowing customers to transfer money by using the mobile number of the person to whom they want to make a transfer.

Customer Support

In light of the ‘customer centric’ business approach, we thought it would be interesting to look at direct customer support from within the app. Whereas all apps have a direct telephone contact integrated (push the icon to call your bank directly), no one has integrated this for social media. None of the tested mobile apps offer the possibility to address a tweet or Facebook post directly to the brand. The only social media customer connection from within the app is a link to the social profile, offered by Belfius and BNP Paribas Fortis.

Extra Features

Challenger Keytrade Bank and Belfius made a good impression thanks to the attention given to app design. It simply looks great with good functionalities, an eye for detail and an excellent user experience. ING has a very handy ‘make an appointment’ feature that allows you to directly book a meeting with your local agent, completely integrated in the app! Both KBC and Belfius pleasantly surprised us with a great built-in demo on how to use the app.

Conclusion

All in all, our personal findings are in line with the user scores in the App Store and Google Play store. Belfius, KBC and ING score best while BNP Paribas Fortis scores relatively weak. Overall functionalities are good and most apps score well on user experience, with simple connection tools using a personal code without a card reader. BNP Paribas Fortis however makes life a tad bit more complicated with different apps for different goals (Easy Banking, Spot, Assist). Despite the fact we can conclude that Belgian banks offer good mobile banking solutions, there is room for improvement. Especially for direct customer connections and fast online (social media) support.

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