It's your Mortgage Day!
During the year we introduced free day-to-day banking for KBC Extra Current Account holders who make a monthly lodgement of €2,000, with no requirement to maintain a minimum balance making it one of the most competitive current accounts on the market.
Irish people are responding to KBC’s competitive current account offering, including students, with 38,000 new current accounts opened in 2019, the strongest year since the launch of the current account in 2013.
We reduced our 2 and 10-year fixed mortgage rates between 0.20% and 0.55% while maintaining our market leading position on 1 and 10-year fixed rates and offering some of the most competitive 2, 3 and 5-year fixed rates options. These new rates provide customers with better long-term value and lower mortgage repayments.
KBC’s ambition is to be an alternative choice for SMEs and we continued to roll out our business banking offering in 2019 providing choice through new product development. We partnered with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) as part of the Government of Ireland’s ‘Future Growth Loan Scheme’ to help support eligible professional businesses and SMEs grow and scale sustainably.
The SBCI has allocated €50 million of the fund to KBC as part of the scheme which will support capital expenditure and promote business investment for development, expansion and improvement through low cost loans.
As a society, we’re rapidly moving towards digital tap and go payments and we added to our full suite of contactless ‘Tap & Go’ payment options in 2019. We added Wena Pay™ making KBC the only bank in Ireland to offer digital wallets from five of the world’s leading technology companies; Apple Pay™, Google Pay™, Fitbit Pay™, Garmin Pay™ and now Wena Pay™.
These tap and pay partnerships support our ambition to transform banking in response to customer demand for easy, secure, digitally-led solutions.
Furthermore, they allow our customers to pair their financial wellbeing with their fitness lifestyle – which is a perfect synergy with our commitment to positive health and wellbeing.
We continued to support Health and Wellbeing initiatives positively impacting on the lives of employees, customers and communities.
As part of our health and wellbeing commitment, we were thrilled to begin our 3-year partnership with the KBC Dublin Marathon on the 40th anniversary of the race. Our first year as title sponsor was a big success and we saw 22,500 entries; 300,000 supporters and 1,500 volunteers take part.
We look forward to building on this success in the years to come.
We also continued our partnership with Wellfest, Ireland’s largest health and wellbeing event. This year the event was bigger and better than ever with attendance growing to 7,500. We expanded the KBC WellGood area hosting a range of health and wellness ambassadors with over 2,000 people attending over the weekend. We also delivered the WellGood programme, a free 21 day online programme featuring tips on nutrition, mindset and fitness.
In 2019, we won a host of awards from across the business including 5 awards at the Irish Mortgage Advisors (AIMA) Awards; Best Technology Innovation at the Digital Media Awards; Best Ecommerce and Forecast Award for our economics team and the Excellence in Mortgage Product Award at Bonkers Ireland Service Excellence Awards.
Doing different is core to everything we do, and this is reflected in our sustainability programme which aims to make a positive impact on the lives of our customers, employees and society.
We were delighted to launch the first Socially Responsible Investment funds to the Irish market offering more investment opportunities to socially conscious consumers. Take up was strong and the funds accounted for 9 percent of all investment sales in 2019.
In 2019 we created awareness of our Green responsibilities internally—we launched Team Blue Goes Green and saw 95% of our employees participate in green initiatives.
Over the year, we ran a series of green campaigns for employees including encouraging the use of re-usable cups and supporting biodiversity by giving all employees native Irish wildflower seeds and offering employees the opportunity to get involved in the beach and river clean-ups with An Taisce.
All employees that participated in the Team Blue Goes Green campaign logged their activity on KBC’s intranet and will have a tree planted on their behalf in the KBC Ireland forest. As a result, in 2020, we will partner with the Tree Council of Ireland and plant 1,500 trees. Over the coming years, we will continue to grow the KBC Ireland forest year on year.
We were proud to continue our charity partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI) for the third year. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland works across the country in the heart of local communities providing dementia specific services and support, and advocating for the rights and needs of all people living with dementia and their carers.
Over the past three years, we have raised over €300,000 in funding and provided 1,200 volunteering hours for the ASI. In total 25 KBC staff participated in the ASI Dementia Learning initiative. Employees through this programme gain a greater understanding and awareness of dementia, its impacts on customers and how we can be more supportive of those living with dementia.
We are committed to Irish banking and to focusing on the best interests of customers and staff and ensuring that there is a long-term sustainable banking sector for everyone that relies upon it.
Rebuilding and maintaining trust is an integral part of that. The Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB), an independent industry initiative funded by the five retail banks in Ireland including KBC, was established in 2019 with the aim of rebuilding trust in the sector and promoting fair customer outcomes.
KBC has been actively working with the IBCB on its key programmes of work that cover a variety of themes from financial education and transparent communications to services for bereaved and vulnerable customers.