ING, the 1st all digital bank in PH

By Lee C. Chipongian

Filipinos are still largely new to digital banking with the not-so-young “ageless” side of the population preferring to bank in the “old school” way – brick and mortar style – long queuing and all. But, a whole generation is embracing the digital banking platform.

Global bank ING, a Europe-based financial institution in the Philippines for 30 years now, offered Filipinos the first all-digital bank in November 2018. A year later, its country manager Hans B. Sicat said he is astounded by how fast digital savings are growing with over a million downloads since it started.

More than 500,000 of those downloads translated into actual customers. Sicat said client on-boarding will continue to grow “in a very fast double-digit, in the 20s” in the next years.

“We’re seeing a huge pick up (in deposits and transactions) and that’s an indicative that Filipinos want to save more,” said Sicat.

The highest downloads were in the age group 25 to 35 years old and this is the market they are tapping into. “The 50 year olds… very small,” he said.

Sicat expects to have more retail clients in 2020, their second year, especially when they launch two products: Consumer loans and a payments proposition. The latter will be offered first or within the first quarter period, while the lending business will start in the second quarter of 2020.

ING consumer lending will be offered on app, or a software application that will run on mobile phones, tabs or computers. “The credit decision will also be made via the app. Hopefully, it will be done within a minute. We’re still calibrating. The target is second half (next year),” said Sicat.

The bank certainly made it fast, convenient and safer for new customers, and if a new account holder has a balance of up to P10 million, they will enjoy four percent interest rate per annum until January 31, 2020. They are also giving ₱100 rebate per electronic transfer transaction.

Sicat said anyone can start a digital savings account for just ₱1. Even small deposits will enjoy higher rates because in the digital world – “there’s a very small marginal cost (and) we’re demonstrating that the digital proposition is there” to encourage more switching to full digital banking services.

In one year, Sicat said their business “is bigger than what we originally expected.” He did say that in other countries where ING operates all digital banking, it took some time to start pouring in the income, some markets took as long as five to seven years. In the Philippines, he thinks it could be more optimistic.

“At this point in time, we’re building our digital platform,” said Sicat. “Digital (banking) is growing faster now than before. We’re quite optimistic that retail (and wholesale banking business) will grow quite fast.”