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Belgium Country Report

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  • Published Date: January 2021


A comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in Belgium, with clearsighted commentary backed by relevant data.
In the midst of severe lockdowns and a reluctance to use cash, Belgian mobile payments soared during the first half of 2020. Fortunately for the incumbents, strong infrastructure is already in place, with nine in ten current accounts able to avail of instant payments.
Like many countries, Belgian banks doubled the limits for contactless payments in April 2020. Belgian society is outward-looking, with a quarter of domestic e-commerce revenue coming from outside the country in 2019.
EU antitrust brakes are preventing the acquiring market from being concentrated in the hands of Worldline.

Lessons from this Belgium cards market report:

How consolidation has affected mobile payments.
Why the credit card struggles to find a place.
How acceptance affects Belgian credit card usage online.
Which player dominates rewards.
How prepaid usage has fallen and why.


  • Belgium has a mature payment cards market. At around 2.5 cards per adult at the end of 2019, the country has one of Europe's highest card penetration rates.
  • The year 2020 saw a surge in contactless card transactions as cardholders tapped three-and-a-half times more often for purchases than in the previous year.
  • Domestic scheme Bancontact continues to control the Belgian debit cards market. In 2019, an estimated 69% of debit card purchase volume went through the domestic network.
  • In 2018, Bancontact merged with mobile payment service Payconiq, creating a new payments powerhouse in the country.
  • Development of the credit cards market in Belgium has been constrained by strict regulation, including an interest rate cap of 12.5%.
  • Mastercard has overtaken Visa as the main credit card issuer in the country thanks to exclusive relationships with KBC and Belfius Bank.
  • In March of 2019, eleven Belgian banks joined forces to launch the country's instant payments system.
  • Worldline dominates the merchant acquiring market with a market share of over 70%. In September 2020, the European Commission approved the proposed acquisition of Ingenico by Worldline.
  • Almost two-thirds of Belgians paid for goods using their smartphone in 2019. The following year, both Payconiq and PayPal rolled out QR code payments solutions.

Belgium Payments Research | Report Contents

Demographics and the economy
Payments environment
Cards market
Mobile payments
Profit pool
The networks
Key retail banks and issuers
Acquiring and processing
Online acquiring
Regulatory and other cards market information

Appendices: Card Payments Data

Appendix I: Demographics and the economy

  • Demographic and economic indicators
  • Ownership of key consumer devices
  • Internet usage by population

Appendix II: Payments environment

  • Access points
  • Account penetration
  • Consumer payment trends
  • B2C e-commerce payment methods

Appendix III: Cards market data

  • Total cards payment metrics
  • Contactless cards metrics
  • Credit card numbers
  • Total credit cards metrics
  • Credit cards profitability indicators
  • Debit cards numbers
  • Debit cards metrics

Appendix IV: Mobile payments

  • Mobile proximity payment metrics
  • Mobile P2P payments

Appendix V: Profit pool

  • Profit pool

Appendix VI: Card networks

  • Networks' credit card market shares
  • Networks' credit card numbers
  • Networks' credit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of credit card transactions
  • Networks' average credit card transaction value

  • Networks' debit card market shares
  • Networks' debit card numbers
  • Networks' debit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of debit card transactions
  • Networks' average debit card transaction value
  • Debit card interchange fees by network

Appendix VII: Key retail banks and issuers

  • Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers
  • Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings
  • Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers

Appendix VIII: Acquirers and processing

  • Merchant acquirer credit card market share
  • Credit card merchant service charges
  • Merchant acquirer debit card market share
  • Debit card merchant service charges
  • Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships
  • Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships
  • Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers
  • Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions

Appendix IX: Online acquiring data

  • Online merchant acquirer market share

Belgium Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy
As of January 2019, Belgium had over 2.2 million people in the 65 and over age bracket. This is increasing government spending on health care and pensions and leading to a decrease in the labour force.

Payments Environment
At the end of 2019, there were over 24 million payments cards in use in Belgium. The country boasts a productive credit cards market and a popular low-cost domestic debit scheme.

Cards market
Card use has been growing strongly, with the average adult making 264 card purchases in 2019. Debit cards are preferred for everyday spending and accounted for 89% of those transactions.

Mobile Payments
With an estimated 8.3 million smartphone users in the country and mobile phone ownership reaching almost total penetration of the adult population, Belgium is becoming an active mobile payments market.

Profit Pool
The Belgian credit cards market has been profitable, albeit modestly, across all years under review. According to VFR's profit pool model, pre-tax profits fluctuated between 2014 and 2019.

Card Networks
Three major international networks are represented in Belgium's credit cards market: Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Mastercard has overtaken Visa as the largest network in recent years.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers
Belgium has a well-developed banking and service infrastructure, although ATM coverage has decreased by 28% since 2014. POS terminal density improved by 28% during the same period.

Acquiring and Processing
Worldline dominates merchant acquiring in Belgium, with an estimated 121,000 merchant accounts in 2020 (out of an estimated 167,823 merchant accounts). More acquirers have entered the market in recent years.

Online Acquiring
Belgium is a market with mass international acceptance and cross-border shopping is second nature. Almost half of the country's online shoppers choose to buy from merchants based in other EU countries

Regulatory and Markets Information
In March of 2019, eleven Belgian banks joined forces to launch the country's instant payments system ... more than 90% of current accounts in the country, therefore, had access to instant payments.

Belgium Payments Report | Entities Referenced

Alpha Card
American Express
Android Pay
Apple Pay
Atos Worldline
AXA Bank
Bancontact Payconiq
Banque de La Poste
Belifius Bank
BNP Paribas Fortis
bpost bank
Crédit Mutuel Nord Europe Belgium
Dexia Bank Belgium
Diners Club
Epargnez & Cueillez
Financial Services and Market Authority
First Data
Google Pay
Hello Bank
Minna Technologies
National Bank of Belgium
SIX Payment Services
The Financial Services and Market Authority


Reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit Europe. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and finance experts.

See more European country reports, explore cards & payments research reports for markets worldwide or view our latest reports.

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