How the Banking System Operates

An Expert's View about Banking in Belgium

Last updated: 18 Apr 2011

The Belgian banking system has long been known to be a sophisticated and liberal banking system. Standardized customer account numbers for all financial intermediaries are widely used, and internet and phone banking are well developed. There are no restrictions on the free movement of capital and regulatory requirements are minimal. There is a particularly wide and flexible range of loan products offered to companies, with no discrimination as to the nationality of the investor. There are also many options available when it comes to raising risk capital. Thanks to an efficient branch network, there is a large number of Belgian and foreign banks servicing the country. Due to the sheer volume of international business carried out in Belgium, more than half of all banking transactions are international financial transactions. The majority of Belgian banks also have an extensive international network based on strategically located branches in the main financial markets around the world. A number of the 106 banks located in Belgium feature prominently in the top 100 international banks. The combined assets of the three main banks (Fortis, ING and KB Group) amount to $370 billion USD. As a result of the various alliances and mergers that took place in the 1990s, the Belgian banking landscape is particularly healthy and robust.

All credit institutions (banks and savings banks) operate under the same legal framework and are monitored by the same supervisory authorities. The Banking, Finance and Insurance Commission (BFAC) supervises the activities of financial institutions, including banks, investment funds, stock brokers, finance companies and holding companies. As a result of the deregulation of the banking sector in 1993, credit institutions have been able to offer all financial services, as defined by European legislation. The BFAC supervises the financial sector in close coordination with the National Bank of Belgium (Belgium’s central bank).

Read the complete commercial guide to Doing Business in Belgium

Posted: 16 April 2011, last updated 18 April 2011