Belfius

“Working together with smaller, more dynamic partners improves our flexibility and time-to-market."

Interview with Bruno Koklenberg — Head of Digital Commerce and e-Banking services.

Belfius

Rapid technological developments and changing client expectations require banks to invest heavily in their digital services. In addition to its own innovations, Belfius Bank enters partnerships for services the bank didn’t offer traditionally. Now, according to Bruno Koklenberg, who heads Digital Commerce and e-Banking services at Belfius, “Working with smaller, dynamic and specialized players like Mollie helps us to quickly respond to new possibilities and evolutions. What we’ve experienced so far has confirmed that this was the right choice.”

New possibilities

Belfius dove into digitalisation and their strategy didn’t go unnoticed. In 2018, the bank won two awards: one for the best bank app, scooping up another for the Chief Digital Officer of the year. “It’s all about the combination of providing a digital experience with a human touch,” Bruno observes, “We offer our professional clients high-performance and user-friendly tools, but do so in combination with advice from experts in payment solutions who visit the client.”

“It’s all about the combination of providing a digital experience with a human touch.”

Bruno Koklenberg Head of Digital Commerce & e-Banking Services at Belfius

An old fashioned safe and a star with a quote

Belfus wants to advise and help its professional clients so they have the most efficient payments possible. Through PSD2, new solutions and prospects are on the horizon. “Whereas in other industries it’s more common to use consumer data for commercial applications, banks are still cautious when it comes to this,” says Bruno. In order to help clients in this omnichannel world, Belfius is looking for collaboration opportunities with other entities.

Digital solutions

There are a variety of examples of just how Belfius’ digital solutions are already having a big impact. For example, there’s the Club Brugge football club. “Club Brugge has implemented supporter cards where people can buy refreshments at games,” Bruno begins, “Until now, to get refreshments, you had to stand in two lines: one to upload money onto the card and a second one to buy a drink.” This made people change their approach: “In order to avoid standing in lines, many people just headed to a cafe outside the stadium when the game was over.” That’s why you can directly transfer money to the cards in the new app using Bancontact via Mollie. It also means there’s less cash in stadiums, because until recently you could only top-up your card with cash at most of the top-up stations at the stadium.” And this was all, “relatively easy to build with the Mollie API,” he adds.

Two men in the Belfius office in front of a picture of a laughing woman

Switching lanes, but just as relevant, there’s the pilot Belfius is doing with cities and municipalities setting up digital service points. The idea behind this is to digitise parts of peoples’ interactions with municipalities.

“Imagine that you want to get a new ID. Normally, you’d have to go to the municipality twice: one time to turn in your application and pay and a second to pick up your ID,” tells Bruno. “It saves people and municipalities a lot of time if people can do the application online and initiate the payment via Mollie,” he says, “Since the municipality is also responsible for public swimming pools and cultural centres, there are a lot of possibilities for digital solutions.”

A smiling Belfius employee behind her desk

Extensive research

When it comes to e-commerce and mobile payments, just as in the above examples, it’s been clear for years that professional partners were necessary. “We’ve done our research,” says Bruno, “and looked into several players that could deliver e-commerce solutions to our customers. We came up with a number of criteria for gauging potential partnerships.” The points of evaluation were as follows:

  • Technology (API)
    Clients should be able to seamlessly integrate payment solutions.
  • Transparent prices
    Clients should be able to quickly discern costs.
  • Accessibility
    Belfius has numerous small businesses as clients that only do a limited number of transactions; therefore, solutions need to be accessible to these companies.
  • Support and technical assistance
    Support to clients should be high quality and available in French and Dutch.

Bruno: “Mollie was far and away the best company when using these criteria, and because of this we recommend Mollie to all our clients as a standard payment solution.”

“Moreover, Mollie is a game-changer in the Belgian market because you reduced the price of Bancontact, making e-commerce transactions more affordable for merchants,” Bruno says. “Before, it wasn’t too transparent, because Bancontact had variable pricing, meaning that for every transaction, a fixed amount plus a percentage of that transaction was charged. It was also expensive for merchants when customers weren’t spending a lot with each purchase. Now, a transaction costs merchants less than a stamp.”

“Mollie is a game-changer in the Belgian market.”

Bruno Koklenberg Head of Digital Commerce & e-Banking Services at Belfius

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“Our e-commerce success prepared us to take on other great projects.”— Martijn Wijsmuller, Co-founder at Ask Phill