PwC Belgium’s Banking Partnerships Study 2021

Here to stay, more to come

Belgian banks have shifted into higher gear in their search for partnerships, according to PwC Belgium’s latest analysis of banks’ partnership activity in the Belgian market. Especially larger universal banks are actively creating digital ecosystems by expanding their service offering into the non-financial realm.

Rise in strategic partnerships

PwC Belgium’s collective data shows a significant increase in publicly announced banking partnerships as of 2018. So far, partnership activity in 2020 had already exceeded and soared above 2019’s total in November and might even surpass 2018 as the new all-time high. The increase in partnership activity is primarily driven by universal banks, whereas the amount of partnerships has remained more stable for niche banks.

"Belgian banks have significantly stepped up partnership activity in recent years. In taking this route, Belgian banks are preparing themselves to become market players that serve their customers with services that fulfil a wide range of customer needs through one integrated customer experience, in the likeness of BigTech firms that created super-apps in Asia."

Julien Stocq Partner at PwC Belgium


Number of newly formed partnerships by banks, Belgium (2013-2020)
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020

Beyond banking 

60% of the partnerships identified were aimed to improve or increase the products offered to customers, to grow their customer base or increase benefits realised by existing customers. The second most frequent reason for banks to collaborate with third parties is to gain access to the technology of the partner (20%). 

The analysis also shows that banks are increasingly shifting focus away from traditional banking services and putting emphasis on adding non-financial services into their offering. These so-called “beyond banking” partnerships are greatly outpacing the partnerships focused on payments, credit or investment services.


Main reasons to form partnerships for Belgian banks (2013-2020)

Access new technology
Access partner network
CSR
Improve product offering

Future outlook

In most recent partnerships that involve new products or services, Belgian banks have been acting as the partnership orchestrator, by keeping the combined services within their own platform, instead of as a participant in the platform of someone else by plugging their services into it. From the 200 partnerships identified from public information, it is clear that the majority of banks are taking on the central role. Public announcements where they are integrating their banking services into other platforms are nearly non-existent.


Improve product offering partnerships for universal banks (2013-2020)
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Improve product offering beyond banking
Improve financial product offering

"Housing, healthcare, food, mobility and education are central in consumer spending: markets that today are relatively offline. By incorporating some of these markets into their platforms, banks are well-placed to diversify their revenue as these markets become digital, but these elements will also cement their added value to society. With these non-financial services, customers will be able to access services from multiple industries. These partnerships give us an insight about the birth of ecosystems in the Belgian market: combining banking and non-banking services to satisfy customer needs along various stages of life: from the big moments such as buying a house, to the small ones such as parking your car."

Gregory Joos Partner at PwC Belgium

About the Belgian Banks Partnerships study and methodology

To conduct this analysis, PwC made reference to public information of partnership activity between Belgian banks and Third Party Providers as of January 2013. This public information consists of news articles, press statements on the websites of the banks or their partners, or the annual statements of the banks. 

PwC included 26 Belgian banks in the scope of the research. This encompasses most of the banks on the NBB list of credit institutions licensed under Belgian law, excluding only some smaller subsidiaries of foreign institutions with no known Belgian partnership activity to date. Partner firms were not excluded. After identifying the partnerships, these were structured according to their impact on the banks by the following criteria: why is the bank taking on this particular partner? Where applicable categories were also segmented based on how they impact the customer. Data set timing includes all partnerships starting from January 2013 until November 2020.  

Contact us

Gregory Joos

Gregory Joos

Partner, PwC Belgium

Tel: +32 473 91 03 53

Connect with PwC Belgium