Where are online banks and nobanks in their quest for new customers? Like every year, MoneyVox tries to take stock. Not empty, as transparency is not always required.
It’s a better-kept secret. The more time passes, the more difficult it becomes to know where online banks are in their conquest of new customers in France. This year, three brands (ING, Monabanq and BforBank), out of the six contacted, did not respond to our requests. Two, Boursorama Banque and Hello bank!, played on transparency by publishing winning figures, on the occasion of the 2021 results of their respective shareholders, Socit Gnrale and BNP Paribas. As for Fortuneo, the Breton bank provided us with a European figure, including its Belgian subsidiary Keytrade.
The opacity is a little less on the side of the nobanks (1). Orange Bank has thus responded to our request, but has now chosen to communicate only one figure, this figure including the hundreds of thousands of customers who are only linked to the brand through insurance on their mobile telephone. Impossible, however, to know how many of them have a bank account or credit there. As for Revolut, its updated figures for 2021 will only arrive on the occasion of its annual results, therefore not before two or three months.
Here is a summary of the information we were able to gather, either from the official publications of the various brands, or directly.
Number of clients
|Growth in 2021||Last known digit|
|ING||?||?||1million in France
|Fortuneo||?||?||950,000 in Europe
|Monabanq||?||?||290,000 in France
|BforBank||?||?||230,000 in France
|Orange Bank||1.6million (1)||+42%||–|
|My French bank||425000||+52%||–|
|Revolution||?||?||1.5 million in France
(1) Including customers only equipped with mobile insurance.
Online banks: Boursorama and the others
What do these numbers tell us? First of all that Boursorama’s clientele continues to growand in a still spectacular way: +32%, again, during the year 2021. Its heavy marketing investments, which continue to prevent it from being profitable in the short term, therefore have the merit of bearing fruit. With more than 3.3million customers, the Société Générale subsidiary is more than ever race at the head of branchless banks and is rapidly approaching its objective: to have 4.5 million customers in 2025.
To achieve this, it could quickly benefit from the reinforcement of some of ING’s customers, since the bank of Dutch origin has announced its intention to cease its retail banking activities in France and has already entered into exclusive negotiations with Boursorama for a client transfer.
The advantages and limits of the Boursorama offer for ING customers
Next to Boursorama, it is difficult to know where the other online banks stand. The only brand to have published recent French figures, Hello Bank, saw its customer base grow by 12% in 2021 and approach 800,000 customers. Fortuneo claims for its part 950,000 customers in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, a figure up by around 70,000 units (+8%) over one year.
up 120 € premium openness thanks to our online banking comparison
One thing seems certain. Boursorama Banque remains the only one, among the historic online banking brands, to keep the ambition to reach a wide audience. The brand is also pleased to capture a majority of young people (nearly 60% of new customers in 2021 are under 30) and provincials (more than 70%). The subsidiary of Societe Generale is also the only one to develop its catalog, to bring it closer to that of agency banks. In 2021, it launched a Retirement Savings Plan (PER), a new offer for teenagers and, more recently, a free brokerage platform.
If its winning figures are very far from those of its competitor, Fortuneo continues to play the loyalty card. More than half of the customers domicile their income there, a sign that they use the subsidiary of Crdit Mutuel Arka as their main bank. The average outstanding amount of deposits per customer, 30,000 euros, is also twice as high as at Boursorama.
Online banking: comparison of offers
Nobanks: premiumization in progress
In terms of growth, only the nobanques, these banking brands born in the last decade and natively digital, compete with Boursorama. The German nobank N26 told us that it had reached 2.5 million customers in France at the end of 2021, a figure up 43% over the year. Comparable growth at Orange Bank, even if, as we have already said, the figure communicated includes many customers who do not have accounts or credits with the bank. Born in 2019, Ma French Bank is doing a little better, with growth of 52% in 2021, to reach 425,000 open accounts.
Above all, unlike the older generation of digital banks, these brands seem to have succeeded convince their customers to pay for their offers. At Orange Bank, more than 90% of contacts with the bank [se font] through a paid offer. This same figure now stands at 50% for N26. As for Ma French Bank, it has never had a free offer, but has also taken the turn of what is known in the jargon as premiumisation, by launching its Ideal account at 6.90 euros per month.
The best of mobile banking
(1) We have limited the market of nobanks here to players with a credit institution license, in France or in a country of the European Union.