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The Return of the Lion

In my work as Solution Manager for Payments at Oracle, I've been working with banks globally on finding ways to monetize payments data. This has been a balancing act.

Bank have a genuine interest in unlocking value for the customer, if the customer agrees to get his data mined. I've seen most success in unlocking value from corporate payments and trade data in global transaction banking (GTB) business units. There are several reasons for it. In terms of analytics, GTB seems to be underserved in many banks in comparison with the retail side of business. Also, corporates are less emotional about privacy issues. Privacy of corporate data is of course a matter of life and death for corporations. But when privacy measures are thoroughly screened, legalese has been applied, and the benefits are there ,corporates are happy to engage.
Not so for retail data. When ING's retail-director Hans Hagenaars last year announced plans to start mining customer data, the Dutch press caught onto it, a Twitter war was launched and at one point 30% of ING customers threatened to leave the bank. ING pulled back the plans and The Netherlands returned to a cosy slumber. ING was not alone experiencing this. Equens went through a similar cycle in about the same timeframe.

Imagine my surprise when ING Belgium's CEO Rik Vandenberghe last weekend annouced that "by using the customer data that is available inside the bank, we want to provide a good service at the right time to each customer" and the bank wants to become "extremely digital and extremely personal" (quotes translated frmo Flemish). The wording was carefully chosen and the phrase 'Big Data' was avoided. Smells like big data to me though.

So what's happening here? Is ING repeating a past mistake in a market that is maybe considered more tolerant? They're counting on the fact that Belgians don't read the Dutch press? Are they re-testing the idea in a non-domestic market?

I think that the reality is more prozaic. Privacy is not what it used to be. Through the use of social media, individuals have happily given up their privacy. Not forced, not in a sneaky way, but with gusto. If I'm ready to give up my privacy in order to be presented with an avalanche of cute kitten pictures, why wouldn't I be willing to give up my privacy for a valuable financial service from a big orange lion?

ING isn't sneaking big data back in. ING seems to be ready to take the heat for being at the forefront of data mining in western europe. Let's hope ING uses this for great service and not for blind profit.

The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.

 

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