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Could ING Bank’s retail proposition in the Philippines be the business model to look out for in South-east Asia?

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As fast growing economies such as Philippines battle Covid-19, distinct trends shaped the country’s latest framework introduced to speed-up large scale adoption of digital channels across their financial services system. For one such banking institution – ING, synonymous with the word “digital transformation” this was a welcome news as  the bank had already introduced its “first all-digital retail banking platform” way back in 2018. With an existing presence in the market, the bank witnessed a major growth in account openings and number of transactions due to the global health crisis. Mohamed Keraine, Head of Retail, Philippines and Head of Retail Development Asia remarked that “the pandemic highlighted the growing importance of accessibility to banking services and ING Philippines was positioned to reach out to existing and new customers and  provide simple, easy and convenient banking services.”

ING’s proposition in Philippines

ING Philippines became the first bank to offer end-to-end electronic onboarding of the customers via the mobile phone, when it launched the ING Save Account in November 2018. Remarkably, it was the first bank savings product where all the transactions carried out by its customers were via the ING mobile app. In addition to this the bank’s proposition offered customers a high interest rate on their savings compared to the market standards and also made transferring funds from ING to other banks free of any charges. In 2020, ING Philippines further expanded the range of digital services by rolling out features such as electronic bank statement generation and adjustable daily transfer limit features on its mobile app to offer its customers transparency and full control of their finances at all times. The bank also introduced its payment account – ‘ING Pay’, which further augments its  seamless, instant and effortless proposition where customers pay their bills and purchases.

To sum it up, Mohamed Keraine says that, “Filipinos are increasingly becoming aware of the need to build their savings and keep an emergency fund, thereby raising the financial literacy in the country. To support this, ING aims to build robust digital capabilities and propositions to further propel the speed of digital adaption for banking services among Filipinos.”

Customer Experience – A part of ING’s DNA

At ING, customer experience (CX) is the starting point of everything. While aware that there is  little to differentiate one bank’s products from another, ING banks on its customer experience to set it apart. Mr. Keraine remarks, “ING’s CX Principles are instilled in the way the bank develops and designs its products. The CX Principles consists of making banking ‘Remarkably easy’, ‘Refreshingly smart’ and ‘Surprisingly personal’ for our customers.” To demonstrate its effective CX, Mr. Keraine tells us how customers can simply deposit a cheque by taking a picture of it.

Customer experience will further be shaped by advanced technology like AI which will dramatically change the way humans interact with computers.  ING believes that to create a differentiating customer experience, banking products and solutions must have four characteristics – instant, personal, relevant and seamless, and the bank believes that AI has the ability to fulfil these characteristics as it enables smarter decision making.

ING believes that to create a differentiating customer experience, banking products and solutions must have four characteristics – instant, personal, relevant and seamless, and the bank believes that AI has the ability to fulfil these characteristics as it enables smarter decision making.

Embracing the digital ecosystem approach

ING is cognizant of the emergence of the several “super apps” which are taking over the financial services space and hopes that these apps will continue to challenge the incumbent banks and players. Partnerships between banks and fintechs represent a  symbiotic relationships with one bringing agility, creativity, entrepreneurship, while other offers a strong brand, a large client base and financial expertise. Addressing the growth of BigTechs and fintechs, Mr. Keraine emphasizes on ING’s collaborative approach and illustrates how ING in Germany collaborated with Amazon to offer loans to eligible sellers – mainly small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) – through Amazon’s seller portal.

Is South-east Asia a potential “Growth Market” for ING Bank?

In the first half of 2020, South-east Asia and other parts of Asia  witnessed a tectonic shift in the way regulators and central banks were quick to build and adopt guidelines on further spur the banking and financial services digital transformation in their respective markets. This nod by the regulators saw active participations and new players, bringing different perspectives and solutions to the retail banking customers in the region. As an incumbent in some of Asia’s key markets, Mohamed Keraine remarked, “South-east Asia continues to be an attractive region with its large, growing population that is highly receptive to adopting digital solutions that can address their current pain points in areas like instance in transportations, e-commerce, food and even financial services.” Furthermore, internet usage in Southeast Asia (SEA) is on the growth trajectory in this region, the future looks optimistic ING’s customer centric, mobile-first proposition has the ability cater to  dynamic customer behaviour patterns. In his closing remarks Mohamed Keraine say that, “ING Philippines has witnessed encouraging results as app downloads and sign-ups doubled year-on-year”, this being a testament to how ING Philippines was prepared ahead of time to face a situation such as the global health crisis.

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