Insights from Michael Anseeuw: a first mover in open banking

As part of our latest research report, we interviewed Michael Anseeuw, Head of Retail Banking, Executive Board Member and long-time open banking evangelist at BNP Paribas Fortis. Here’s what he had to share about the challenges of being an early adopter, and his vision for a customer-centric approach.

TL;DR – Quick summary

  • Michael Anseeuw is Head of Retail Banking and Executive Board Member at BNP Paribas Fortis.

  • In this interview with Tink, he describes the challenges he encountered as one of the early adopters of open banking.

  • Michael shares that the BNP Group has a strong client-centric focus, and his thoughts on what makes a good customer experience.

Insights from Michael Anseeuw: a first mover in open banking

Two things struck us about Michael when we sat down for a (remote) chat: he’s very generous with his knowledge, and he’s deeply empathetic. For him, the notion of ‘caring about the customers’ is not just talk – it’s at the core of who he is.

We had a great conversation, and came out of it with a lot more insights than we could have hoped for – we actually couldn’t fit it all in the report. So we’re sharing the bits we left out here.

Which challenges did you encounter when embarking on your open banking journey?

As a first movers, we’ve run into our fair share of challenges. In Belgium we often say ‘onbekend maakt onbemind’, which can be translated to ‘what is unknown will not be loved’.

We’ve had to play a very active role in educating people on why open banking will be beneficial to our business and the lives of our customers. We always need to protect both our existing business as well as our customers’ interests as much as we can.

One of the risks being an early adopter is being one of the first to encounter the complexity of the technology and regulation required to support open banking. This is always why we decided to partner with fintechs that are well experienced in this space.

Michael Anseeuw, Head of Retail Banking and Executive Board Member at BNP Paribas Fortis

Where do you expect the bank to be in 3-5 years?

Around the world, you have two models emerging in the banking space. The Chinese model is one where the winner takes all. This is where we see one super-app that interoperates with all other third-party services to generate traffic and cross-sell opportunities.

Within the BNP Paribas Group, we are pursuing what we call the ‘financial companion’ model. For us, the point of departure will always be the customer and the services that are relevant to the customer.

And so we’re developing a range of cross-industry customer journeys. In the area of mobility (and transportation), for instance, we recognised years ago that private leasing may be relevant to the consumer market too. By getting closer to the customer, we can anticipate mobility needs and help facilitate or fund important investment decisions. For us it’s all about being client-centric.

What are the most important attributes of a good customer experience?

First of all, a good customer experience makes life easier. The customer must have a choice to decide for themselves, but it needs to be intuitive and simple to understand.

Second, a good customer experience is relevant. We need to offer services that make sense and that are timely. It needs to create value.

And third, we have a key societal role. This means that we take into account the moral principles and values that customers find important. Sustainability, for instant, has been a major topic for us for years. We’re making investment decisions to become more sustainable as a bank and help our customers be more green too.

By focusing on the customer experience, we win customer loyalty and trust. There are two types of trust: implicit trust and explicit trust.

The implicit trust in banks is generally very high. People implicitly trust banks to provide a loan, to provide payment service, to keep their money safe. But the explicit trust is not as high as it used to be. This happens when the values aren’t on par.

Because we have implicit trust, we can offer financial services, but only if we also have explicit trust, by making life easier, relevant and sustainable means that we can offer companion services.

More open banking insights

For all the other great insights and answers we got from Michael – including what spurred BNP Paribas Fortis to take the first-mover advantage, as well how open banking is already changing their business – check out our report.

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