Big bank is watching you: ING to share spending with advertisers

ING is considering selling companies information about what its customers spend their money on so they can directly target advertising at them, retail banking chief Hans Hagenaars says in an interview with the Financieele Dagblad.

The bank has set up a ‘big data’ taskforce to study spending patterns and hopes to begin trials involving a couple of thousand clients this year. They will be asked to give explicit permission to share their information, Hagenaars told the FD.

‘A garden centre, for example, would like to know that you spend €150 on garden plants and equipment every March,’ Hagenaar said. ‘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.’ ING has 4.2 million clients.


Hagenaars told the FD he realises the suggestion will arouse privacy concerns. ‘We will have to remain within the boundaries of what society accepts,’ he said.

The ING plan, effectively a competitor to Google advertising, is a way of defending the bank’s position in the face of new competitors, he said.

‘If it generates extra fees we will not ignore them,’ he said. ‘But if earning nothing is the price we have to pay to win acceptance in society, then that is a choice we must make.’ However, companies may have to pay ING for approaching their clients, although that has not been decided, the FD said.

The FD says ING’s concept is the first of its kind in Europe but that in the US, Bank of America and retailer Macy’s are experimenting with ‘customer intelligence’ programmes.

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