A comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in Belgium, with clearsighted commentary backed by relevant data.
In the midst of severe lockdowns and a reluctance to use cash, mobile payments soared during the first half of 2020. Fortunately for the incumbents, strong infrastructure is already in place, with nine in ten current accounts able to avail of instant payments.
Like many countries, Belgian banks doubled the limits for contactless payments in April 2020. Belgian society is outward-looking, with a quarter of domestic e-commerce revenue coming from outside the country in 2019.
EU antitrust brakes are preventing the acquiring market from being concentrated in the hands of Worldline.
How consolidation has affected mobile payments.
Why the credit card struggles to find a place.
How acceptance affects credit card usage online.
Which player dominates rewards.
How prepaid usage has fallen and why.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Demographics and the economy
Key retail banks and issuers
Acquiring and processing
Regulatory and other cards market information
Appendices: Card Payments Data
Appendix I: Demographics and the economy
Appendix II: Payments environment
Appendix III: Cards market data
Appendix IV: Mobile payments
Appendix V: Profit pool
Appendix VI: Card networks
Appendix VII: Key retail banks and issuers
Appendix VIII: Acquirers and processing
Appendix IX: Online acquiring data
Demographics and Economy
As of January 2019, Belgium had over 2.2 million people in the 65 and over age bracket. This is increasing government spending on health care and pensions and leading to a decrease in the labour force.
At the end of 2019, there were over 24 million payments cards in use in Belgium. The country boasts a productive credit cards market and a popular low-cost domestic debit scheme.
Card use has been growing strongly, with the average adult making 264 card purchases in 2019. Debit cards are preferred for everyday spending and accounted for 89% of those transactions.
With an estimated 8.3 million smartphone users in the country and mobile phone ownership reaching almost total penetration of the adult population, Belgium is becoming an active mobile payments market.
This credit cards market has been profitable, albeit modestly, across all years under review. According to VFR's profit pool model, pre-tax profits fluctuated between 2014 and 2019.
Three major international networks are represented in Belgium's credit cards market: Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Mastercard has overtaken Visa as the largest network in recent years.
Key Retail Banks and Issuers
Belgium has a well-developed banking and service infrastructure, although ATM coverage has decreased by 28% since 2014. POS terminal density improved by 28% during the same period.
Acquiring and Processing
Worldline dominates merchant acquiring in Belgium, with an estimated 121,000 merchant accounts in 2020 (out of an estimated 167,823 merchant accounts). More acquirers have entered the market in recent years.
Belgium is a market with mass international acceptance and cross-border shopping is second nature. Almost half of the country's online shoppers choose to buy from merchants based in other EU countries
Regulatory and Markets Information
In March of 2019, eleven Belgian banks joined forces to launch the country's instant payments system ... more than 90% of current accounts in the country, therefore, had access to instant payments.
Banque de La Poste
BNP Paribas Fortis
Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe Belgium
Dexia Bank Belgium
Epargnez & Cueillez
Financial Services and Market Authority
National Bank of Belgium
SIX Payment Services
The Financial Services and Market Authority
Verisk financial reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit Europe. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and finance experts.
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