National Bank of Belgium publishes new analysis of the digital transformation in the Belgian banking sector

The launch of digital wallets and chatbots, the creation of neobanks and the establishment of partnerships with other actors are all initiatives that illustrate the growing digitisation in the banking sector. This phenomenon is not new, but the pandemic has pushed digitisation in this sector into high gear.

Three years ago, based on a survey of Belgian banks, the National Bank had already analysed the trends and developments related to innovative technologies and the entry into the market of new players and competitors. A report on this analysis was published on 22 November 2018, summarising its results and providing an overview of good practices in this area. 

In 2020, the NBB again surveyed Belgian banks to continue the dialogue on the potential developments, opportunities, risks, and threats of digitisation and FinTech. The survey focused in particular on their strategic preparations, their organisation and the progress they have made in this area, the maturity of the technologies they have introduced or are in the process of introducing, and the extent to which the recommended good practices have been applied.

The results of this new analysis, which were presented to the sector during the course of 2021, give an overview of the trends in this area and highlight some of the initiatives that illustrate the digital transformation and indicate the progress of the Belgian banking sector in this domain.

The analysis concludes with the NBB's comments and recommendations, formulating a number of points for attention with respect to both the organisation and the functioning of Belgian banks, while emphasising the importance of an active dialogue.

In general, the NBB notes that most Belgian banks have developed a genuine digital strategy. However, the degree of progress in implementing that strategy varies significantly from one bank to another. Banks that are less advanced are invited to take measures to ensure their long-term viability.

Growing digitisation also increases dependence on IT systems which are often the target of malicious attacks. This includes third-party systems as well as banks’ proprietary systems. It is therefore crucial that banks continue to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to ensure their operational resilience and respond to the cyber risks associated with digitisation in order to protect their systems, data and clients.