ING is exploring the possibility of opening a digital bank in China through a partnership with Bank of Beijing.
During a conference call for the Dutch firm's third quarter results, CEO Ralph Hamers confirmed that last week a memorandum of understanding was signed with Bank of Beijing, in which ING holds a 13% stake.
Hamers stressed that the partners are in the early stages of investigating the online project, hammering out the business case and how ownership would be split, and that there is no timeframe for a decision.
Reporting a slight rise in third quarter underlying pretax profit to EUR1.5 billion, Hamers also stressed the importance of ING's approach to the burgeoning fintech sector, citing ING's recent partnership with Kabbage and new Belgium accelerator.
"There's thousands of fintechs that are actually disrupting the banking scene. And they come with new technology, they come with new client experiences, and they truly try and get between us and the customer," says Hamers.
While insisting that banks should not be afraid of the upstarts, he says "there is a lot of things we can learn from them, and therefore we have to look closely at them, how we can work together."