ING retreats from plan for targeted ads based on spending history

ING retreats from plan for targeted ads based on spending history

Following a public outcry, Dutch bank ING has pulled back from plans to enable firms to push adverts to its customers based on payments history.

Last week retail banking head Hans Hagenaars told Dutch finance newspaper Financieele Dagblad that ING was looking into how it could harness big data to target customers with adverts and offers based on their spending patterns.

"A garden centre, for example, would like to know that you spend €150 on garden plants and equipment every March. So that would be the time to make a good offer. Digial banking is growing enormously, particularly via mobile app. We not only know what people spend their money on but where they do it," Hagenaars told the paper.

The bank had hoped to run a trial later this year with a couple of thousand customers who were happy to share their data.

However, the plan kicked up a privacy debate in the Netherlands with consumer organisation Consumentenbond among those raising concerns, warning that the use of payment data for commercial reasons should "be viewed with suspicion".

In an open letter (in Dutch) published Monday on its Web site, ING has sought to placate customers, insisting that it only wanted to save customers money and that it will not share - or sell - transaction data with third parties.

The bank admits that "we have not been clear enough about this sensitive subject" and says that it will now talk to customers, regulators and privacy organisations "to determine whether and how to proceed" before deciding whether to carry out the pilot.

In 2012 MasterCard was hit by a similar rash of negative headlines over its plans to sell card transaction data to large retailers and corporations.

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