Keeping up with the market – June 2021

New players & products

French neobank Swoon arrives in Belgium

Swoon, la néobanque lilloise, débarque sur smartphone à la fin de l'annéeSwoon was founded in 2019 in Lille, by Victoire and Quentin Haddouche. 2020 allowed them to test their product with a good thousand beta testers, and the neobank is starting its activities this month in France, Luxembourg and Belgium.  Swoon intends to focus on savings and investment. Their tests revealed two niches of clients : 35-50 years old, with a good vision of their savings and an idea of how to make them grow, and young clients between 18-25 years old. The team currently consists of 8 people at the company’s Lille headquarters. One or two additional employees will soon be working from Brussels.

Ethias launches Ethihub

Accueil - Ethi'hubEtihub is a digital window on Ethias’ insurance innovations

It provides a clear overview of all the services offered by Ethias, the solutions developed internally, the technologies used and the partners involved in the adventure. The purpose is to share the Group’s know-how, promote co-creation and open up to new partners.

Banx will soon enter the market

Proximus dévoile les premiers détails de sa banque 100% digitaleThe Proximus banking app, developed with the support of Belfius, is expected in the autumn and Proximus has unveiled some of its features. Users will have the possibility to discover and analyse their purchases’ carbon footprint, open accounts remotely, share bills with friends digitally regardless of their banks. Also, money transfers will be instant to any bank.

Wikifin gets a makeover

Communiqués de presse de Wikifin | WikifinThe FSMA’s Wikifin website has been completely redesigned. Its look and feel have been modernised, its new structure makes it easier to find information and it now has a powerful search function. The site, which provides access to a wide range of information and popular calculators, now also features a series of educational videos on various money issues. With more than four million visits per year, the wikifin.be website has been a huge success since the financial education programme was launched in 2013.

Partnerships, mergers and acquisitions

P&V is getting rid of Private Insurer

HomeThe acquisition of Private Insurer by P&V, which was supposed to be a springboard to boost the development of Branch 23 for P&V, ended up with tax irregularities and legal action taken. In this context, the P&V group has already recorded a provision of €52 million in 2020, with a strong impact on its annual results. P&V Group is now discussing with the NBB the development of an orderly resolution plan for Private Insurer.

Deminor could suspend the sale Integrale

Services d'assuranceDeminor, which represents the interests of a number of bondholders, does not understand the opacity surrounding the sale of Integrale and the silence of most of the parties involved. Deminor has decided to take legal action in order to make the conditions of the sale fully transparent. Its main objective is to push Monument Re to the negotiating table in order to obtain compensation for the bondholders.

Wilink acquires Alliance Bokiau

Wilink reprend les activités d'Alliance-Bokiau | WilinkFollowing a legal reorganisation procedure that started last year, the activities of Alliance Bokiau are being taken over by the broker Wilink, which is thus consolidating its leading position in insurance brokerage in Belgium. The CEO of Wilink describes the acquisition as strategic: “The activities of Alliance Bokiau and Wilink complement each other perfectly: the skills of Alliance Bokiau’s staff and the general insurance clientele strengthen Wilink’s leadership in the south of the country”, he adds, welcoming Alliance Bokiau’s 20,000 customers and 40 staff members.

 

AG & BNP Paribas Fortis become shareholders in mobility services provider Optimile

Discover your match with OptimileThe shareholders AG, Touring and BNP Paribas Fortis are investing 8 million euros in the Ghent-based company Optimile. The software company is thus entering a new dimension in the development of services for, on the one hand, the charging of electric cars via Charging-as-a-Service (CaaS) and, on the other hand, multimodal mobility via Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). Last year, the Optimile team grew from 10 to 25 employees. Optimile wants to double this number with 25 additional experts in the technical and commercial teams.

 

Ethias partners with Liberty Rider, the motorcyclists’ virtual guardian angel

Liberty Rider : tout savoir sur la start-up - ChallengesEthias has entered into a partnership with Liberty Rider, an app’ that offers a number of useful features to motorcyclists, such as an automatic call to the emergency services in the event of a fall or accident or an alert in the event of dangerous bends. More specifically, Ethias offers the Premium version of the application for one year to its motorbike policyholders.

Banking news

Women in Finance: The European Central Bank is aiming for 40% of women on management boards by 2025

Only 8% of European banks have a CEO. This is too few for the ECB, who is adding the criteria of diversification to its conditions for access to management positions, the so-called “Fit&Proper”. A working group within the ECB is working on the content of these criteria and the sanctions that could result from them, such as an additional capital requirement. A few examples in Belgium: the country’s leading bank, BNP Paribas Fortis, has four women out of the twelve members of the management committee (CFO, HRD, compliance and customer services). At KBC, there is one female CRO for every 7, compared to two for every 8 at ING (Head of Wholesale and CRO) and Belfius (HR and CRO). There is gender parity in the Argenta executive. According to the NBB, Belgium is neither among the best nor the worst in terms of diversity.

Cryptocurrencies: a major risk for banks?

How should financial institutions deal with virtual currencies? The Basel Committee has provided in its report, published at the beginning of June, a list of the main risks incurred by the banking sector if it invests, on a recurring basis, in cryptocurrencies and related services: risks related to liquidity, credits, markets, operational errors, hacking, etc. The Basel Committee also mentions that if banks invest in cryptocurrencies, they must meet the most stringent capital requirements. They must therefore provide as much capital for virtual currencies as they do for the riskiest repackaged financial products, whose underlying assets are not clearly defined. Concretely, for every dollar invested, financial institutions will have to set aside an additional dollar. The Basel Committee specifies that these are recommendations that can be adjusted.

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