The Belgian banking sector has two important characteristics. First, banking is deemed an important part of Belgian culture with a relatively high number of bank offices in the country. In 2016, for example, the total number of offices of banks established in Belgium reached approximately 4,270 in the Flemish region. This is due to the fact that many banking offices in Belgium are managed by entrepreneurs who are not directly on the payroll of the bank itself. Consequently, the decrease of bank branches, which characterizes the financial sector in most European countries, happens at a slower rate.
Between 2008 and 2016, the population serviced by one credit institution increased from approximately 102,000 people in 2008 to approximately 122,500 people in 2016. Second, the Belgian banking landscape has the presence of several large non-Belgian banking concerns, notably Dutch bank ING and France-based BNP Paribas.
In 2017, BNP Paribas Fortis (Fortis was originally a Belgian bank, but was taken over by BNP Paribas and now operates as a daughter company to the French bank) reached a phased-in Common Equity Tier 1 (CET 1) ratio of approximately 15 percent.