The bank nowadays has three layers: the front (the nice mobile banking app), the middle (the APIs, the third party provider), and the back (the blockchain, machine learning, etc.) How do you connect all these parts within ING and make them work?
Everything starts with our values and vision – we are moving to platforms, we are moving in a world where there are no longer verticals, banking, insurance, but platforms where you are interacting with the customers and give them the best offers.
Banks are moving on the premises that customer experience is important. In order to be successful, you need a couple of elements, like the openness to the external world, for example. We are currently working with about 80 fintechs; they bring their technological knowledge which we use to improve the customer experience. We are also working with third parties to offer services to our customers on our platforms, for example in Spain and Poland.
Moving from a classical way of banking to a modern way - which is this platform - serving and helping customers, this is the essence of banking. Banking should work seamlessly and effectively and we, as bankers, have to learn to be there to help. This is the new philosophy we have in this new digital era.
How does PSD2 impact ING? And how do you see PSD2 impacting banks in general? What are the opportunities, but also the challenges, the threats?
At this point, we do not know 100% how it will be like. However, we see PSD2 as an opportunity, mainly because it‘s aimed at helping customers to be in charge of their money. And this is what we have been trying for the past years: to make customers’ lives easier. We believe that if you offer a differentiating customer experience and you have a good Net Promoter Score (NPS), they will be more willing to move to our bank. Moreover, helping customers to work in an easy way with banks brings more fluidity in the system.
We have launched our own fintech in the UK, called Yolt. It aggregates accounts from consumers, gives them tips and suggestions on how to manage their accounts and finances. We are helping clients manage finances in a standard, easy way.
Can you explain how these banks connect to Yolt?
PSD2 is not finalised yet. Nevertheless, those [Fintech] applications are live. PSD2 doesn’t change much for the customer, in the sense that you still have your account in bank A, bank B, bank C. The only thing you have to do is to download the application, which is gathering these accounts. We are consolidating all the accounts, and we are able to tell a customer they have spent EUR 250 on shoes, for instance, from aggregating those different accounts. Yolt also tells the user how many days are left till the next salary pay date and how much money there is on the aggregated accounts, including all upcoming debits.
We receive this information and we add value by giving those concrete elements to customers. We see different debits coming up and are able to add value from using the data. It is not the institution that owns the data but the consumer.
What are the lessons you have learned so far while working on & with APIs?
One of the biggest lessons learned is that standardization is not easy, even in Europe. We see different levels of maturity, in different countries.
Also, we must put the necessary efforts to it; this doesn’t come naturally. If the systems cannot talk to each other, it is hard to make them interact. We need to have these systems as a plug-in and adopt the trial and error way. Our role as a service provider is to build that core infrastructure and make sure that is fluid and afterwards decide what technology to use.
About Ignacio Juliá Vilar
Ignacio is Chief Innovation Officer and Head of Retail Banking Segment at ING Group. He also had the positions of Head of Retail, Vice-President of the Management Board, PolandIn, at ING Bank Śląski S.A. in 2012-2016, and Head of Retail and 2nd in Command at ING Direct N.V. Spain in 2011-2012.
Other positions: 2007-2010 ING Direct N.V. Spain and ING Direct — Global Role CFO, CRO and EVP Business Intelligence Executive Counsellor to ING Direct Global Executive Management Team (GMT), 2004-2006 ING Direct N.V. Amsterdam Head of Strategy, Planning and Business Development Member of ING Direct Senior Management Team, and 1999-2003 ING Direct N.V. Spain Head of Financial Planning and Controller, MIS Manager.
About ING Group
ING is a global financial institution with a strong European base, offering banking services through its operating company ING Bank. The purpose of ING Bank is empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business. ING Bank’s 52,000 employees offer retail and wholesale banking services to customers in over 40 countries. ING Group shares are listed on the exchanges of Amsterdam (INGA AS, INGA.AS), Brussels and on the New York Stock Exchange (ADRs: ING US, ING.N).
Sustainability forms an integral part of ING’s strategy, which is evidenced by the number one position among 395 banks ranked by Sustainalytics. ING Group shares are being included in the FTSE4Good index and in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Europe and World) where ING is among the leaders in the Banks industry group.
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