The digitization of French banks
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The digitization of French banks: state of play

The health context and its many constraints helping, many sectors of the economy have accelerated their digitalization over the past two years. The banking sector, closely linked to that of real estate, has not escaped this. But more than a year and a half after the crisis, where are we today? Update on the digitalization of French banks and the new expectations of their customers, thanks to the study conducted by the online real estate broker Pretto.

What are customers' expectations in terms of digitization?

As the periods of sanitary restrictions follow one another, lower real estate rates until their historic low encouraged the French to maintain their real estate projects. Fortunately for them, the banks which had already started their digitalization were able to support them in their search for credit.

However, the digitization of banking services remains very uneven from one institution to another. To quantify it, we can then study it according to 4 main criteria, which make it possible to assess the level of digitalization from the point of view of the customer and his user experience:

  • digitalization of the offer
  • the digitization of customer relations
  • the completeness of the borrower journey
  • the simplicity of the borrower journey

With regard to these four major criteria, customer expectations are then easily identifiable.

Of course, the first condition for successful digitization remains a wide range of offers, supposed to satisfy all profiles. But these offers would not be enough to convince if they were not part of a globally digitalized customer relationship, for example with the development of websites and adapted mobile applications. Digital technology should not only make it easier for customers to subscribe to the solutions offered by the bank, but also to exchange more fluidly with their advisor.

In the context of a bank loan, customers pay particular attention to the completeness of their borrowing journey, which must be digitized from A to Z in order to be truly satisfactory. Digital should not only be used to sell banking products and services, but also to provide transparent information to customers, who want better visibility. At the same time, this transparency must be accompanied by great security in the processing and exchange of data.

While some banks are successful, others are still struggling to offer a fully digital journey to their customers. This is one of the reasons why Pretto offers numerous online tools and resources to complete the digital offer of banks.

A typology of banks in the age of digitization

By applying the criteria mentioned above, Pretto was able to draw up a typology allowing French banks to be classified according to their digitization.

4 bank profiles that stand out

By crossing the level of digitization of banks with the quality of the borrower experience online, the Pretto experts were able to name 4 different bank profiles:

  • Combined banks
  • 100% digital banks
  • Banks in the process of digitalization
  • Little digitized banks

Few traditional banks offer a 100% digital service

If online banks have been around for a few years now, it is the banks offering a combined offer that stand out the most today. These traditional banks, which had already started their digitalization well before the Covid epidemic, managed to do well during the periods of restriction, by maintaining their activity despite branches closed to the public.

By offering both traditional operation with physical branches and a 100% digitized journey, these combined banks offer a complete offer that manages to satisfy all customers. We find there both the advantages of a 100% fluid and transparent online offer and those of a more humane and reassuring traditional offer, with real monitoring carried out by a single advisor. This makes it possible to provide a quality service on a daily basis (current account, savings solutions, insurance, advice, etc.) as well as in more important procedures, such as when taking out a mortgage. The quality of service and innovative functionalities thus come together to offer a 100% digitized and supervised borrower journey.

Online banking offers are not comprehensive enough

Digital in essence, online banks are struggling to meet all customer expectations. Although they offer a rather fluid and complete 100% digitized customer experience, they have difficulty convincing in terms of borrower journeys.

Too simple, too limited, their loan offers are aimed only at a few private clients and can only concern very simple projects, with basic loan conditions. We can also blame them for a somewhat dehumanized customer relationship, since they do not offer the possibility of being accompanied by an appointed advisor. Although this is not essential for monitoring a current account, it is a reassuring element when it comes to taking out a 20-year loan!

Thus, if the coronavirus has been able to accelerate the digitization of banks, it has above all accentuated the disparities that already existed in the banking sector. Banks that are struggling to digitize have thus fallen further behind, while others have been able to benefit from the health context to continue their momentum and consolidate their digitization.

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