Belfius bank and telecoms company Proximus have agreed to form a strategic partnership to open up their own digital platforms to each others’ clients.
Under the deal, Proximus clients would get access to Belfius’ online banking availability, offering entirely digital and cash-free payments.
In return, Proximus will develop a special package of applications for Belfius clients. Belfius has promised “radical renewal” of its own banking app to take advantage of the new possibilities.
Belfius has been angling for a relationship with Proximus since around 2017, when CEO Marc Rasière first suggested what was then described as a ‘marriage proposal’.
The synergy makes sense. Banks are increasingly being asked to provide more online services, which in the end are not their core business. A partnership with an online company is an obvious solution, but is a long time coming in Belgium.
In France, by contrast, telecoms company Orange has already forged a partnership with Groupama Banque to form Orange Bank.
Belfius meanwhile has been active in online services, with a participation in online property website Immovlan, a competitor of market leaders Immoweb.
Banks are currently seeking new income streams, with interest rates at such a low level that the traditional source of revenue is no longer reliable. Online services not only act as an attraction for customers to switch banks, they also as time goes on lock those customers in, making changing banks more complicated as customers are moved outside of their own comfort zone.
Proximus, in the meantime, has not been standing still.
Last December, the company reached an agreement with KBC bank to allow KBC clients to consult their Proximus account via the KBC app, and to receive a discount on purchases from a Proximus store.
That relationship goes on, regardless of the new Belfius arrangement, a Proximus spokesperson confirmed.