ING takes startup path as top banks reap innovation rewards

ING takes startup path as top banks reap innovation rewards

Dutch banking group ING has revealed that it is working with 45 fintech companies in an effort to jump-start its digital transformation programme.

Speaking on the publication of the bank's first quarter results statement, ING chief executive Ralph Hammers emphasised the importance of the bank's 'Think Forward' strategy to improve the customer experience and drive commercial growth.

"The digital banking landscape has never been more dynamic than it is today," he says. "Customers are changing the way they bank, which requires us to be flexible and agile. Our Think Forward strategy has enabled us to rise to this challenge and deliver a differentiating experience to our more than 34 million customers around the world."

In November 2014, ING announced plans to cut 1700 jobs and spend EUR200 million to simplify and upgrade its IT systems over the next three years.

Hammers says the bank made further progress in Q1, investing in customer-friendly technologies and outside collaborations.

In France, it became the first bank in the country to introduce a digital financial advisor, 'Coach Epargne', which helps customers to make more informed savings and investment choices, while in the Netherlands, it started working with small enterprises in its 'Ondernemerslab' facility to co-develop new services that meet their business needs in areas such as finance and marketing.

In wholesale banking, new features were rolled out to the bank's InsideBusiness digital banking platform, which was also made available to business customers in the UK and Ireland.

"We are currently partnered with around 45 fintechs dedicated to creating innovative solutions for banking needs, such as money management, payments, lending and mobile on-boarding.," says Hammers. "For example, seven start-ups are working on their 'proof-of-concept' through the ING Fintech Village initiative in Belgium, and four through the Innovation Studio in the Netherlands. These open, collaborative programmes involve multiple partners and provide access to their respective networks, allowing the start-ups to accelerate their development."

A new report from the Boston Consulting Group stresses the importance to banks of developing digital capabilities that "radically simplify" operations and reinvent customer service as disruptive challenges to the industry accelerate.

BCG's annual retail-banking excellence benchmarking found that the top operational and digital performers among the world's leading banks reaped the lion's share of financial rewards - for example, 50% higher average pretax profit per customer than the median globally.

The benchmarking revealed that the leading banks are boosting investment in innovation to differentiate themselves in the eyes of digitally demanding customers.

"Notably, the leading banks have transitioned customers online without a reduction in revenue," says Brad Noakes, a BCG partner. "That's yet another sign that the table stakes for operational and digital excellence are growing."

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