The Dutch consumers’ association Consumentenbond, MPs and the public have attacked ING for its plans to help companies target its clients with advertising.
MPs say they plan to raise the issue in parliament. And the Dutch privacy watchdog CPB said the plans are currently too vague. The financial services watchdog AFM said it planned to discuss the plans with ING to ensure the customer’s interest is paramount.
The Financieele Dagblad reported earlier on Monday 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 said 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.
‘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.
Rabobank and ABN Amro both said in a reaction they only use customer information to sell their own products. ‘But never say never,’ an ABN Amro spokesman is quoted as saying by broadcaster Nos.
ASN Bank said it would never sell on information about its customers’ spending habits.
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