Belfius: “Who needs fintech anyway?”

It’s very unlikely that you haven’t heard of ‘fintech' yet. This term (short for financial technology) usually refers to startups in the financial industry who have created some innovative technology that would make the traditional banks and other financial organizations obsolete. The leading banks are supposed to be very afraid of these “new kids on the block”. But, judging from the keynote held by Geert Van Mol at SAS Forum, they don’t seem impressed at all.

“Who needs fintech when you can get everything from your regular bank?” asked Geert Van Mol, Chief digital Officer at Belfius Bank & Insurance. Especially in the mobile applications arena, Belfius needs to fear no one: they have over 900.000 mobile users, and every day more than 1.000 new users are added. Each of these users connect on average 26 times per month, and seem to be happy doing so, if we go by the satisfaction score of 99%.

Belfius is the fastest growing financial institute when it comes to mobile activity, according to a benchmarking study held by Finalta last year. This also has a huge impact on the direct sales through mobile phone. To name just one example: the number of direct sales of credit cards has doubled between 2014 and 2016 to almost 50.000. The excellent commercial results are largely due to the 2-click flow, speeding up the sales process and removing potential barriers to finalizing the deal. All these mobile innovations have led to several awards and industry recognitions, such as Data News’ ICT Project of the Year as well as several best (overall, not just financial) App of the Year awards.

Data turned into revenue

Next to several awards, this mobile app has also garnered huge amounts of data. These data are the starting point of the next wave of innovations, promises Geert Van Mol: “Using data for innovation will be a long and never-ending journey, which starts with the centralization and integration of all these data. and meanwhile we will continue focusing on customer experience. So the most rewarding projects that will turn data into additional revenue are yet to come. but they will make a huge difference.” Among the many examples he provided to convince us, one has already been implemented: if you use your available data in the sales process of e.g. an insurance contract, you can reduce the number of questions the customer needs to answer from 40 to 10. This considerably speeds up the sales process as well. But he also hinted at data-based innovations in the future: insurance contract adjustments based on the number of times you have filled your petrol tank, chatbots to assist in sales and support processes armed with all available knowledge on the chatting customer, ...

Data will fuel Belfius’ innovation train continuously. Another source of inspiration is the innovation taking place around us. “You need to look in all directions”, concluded Geert Van Mol: “not just to your left - Silicon Valley, London, New York - but also to your right, in China, Singapore, Japan and other regions. If you confine yourself to Silicon Valley, you would miss out on a lot that’s happening today.”