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Financing of the EU economy - Priorities for building a single retail financial market

Moving towards cross border retail financial services

By Timmermans Koos - Vice-Chief Executive Officer, ING Bank


ING offers retail banking in multiple EU countries. Today we do this through local presence, we are keen to introduce true cross-border financial services in the future. As we have experienced with our ING Direct model, easy processes, clear conditions, real customer centricity, local marketing and client servicing lead to a high degree of customer satisfaction and are therefore key when providing retail services. These principles also apply in a cross-border context.

Against this background ING supports objectives of the EC Green Paper: to create a more diversified approach in retail financial services that will allow more choice and competition. In order to achieve this the digital component is very important, from both a demand and a supply side.

On the demand side, we see that customers are increasingly moving and interacting with us in a digital – at times even a digital-only – way and will decrease costs to the benefit of the customer. As such, being able to offer financial products and services in a digital way has become the new baseline. However, it should also to be noted that whereas we see a strong customer demand for digital services, we have not yet seen great demand from customers for cross-border services.

On the supply side, we see that physical requirements actually prohibit the ease of offering financial products and services cross-border. On boarding and contracting customers require physical presence and physical customer-provider interaction. Therefore enabling a European digital onboarding of customers by removing physical signature requirements would be instrumental to improve efficiency and ease to purchase financial services to new customers.

Apart from the above, many differences in local requirements regarding customer due diligence, consumer protection, tax legislation and data protection exist. This makes a centralized product approach difficult. Alignment in these areas is of course a crucial ingredient to make retail financial services work effectively cross-border.

Although not explicitly linked to the provision of cross-border retail financial services in the EC Green Paper, we view that a European Deposits Guarantee Scheme (EDIS) is very important in this context. After all, this would ease depositors’ anxiety in times of stress, which is even more important when operating in a cross-border environment.

Finally, being able to pool balance sheets would for ING facilitate a true European strategy, with more flexibility to attract customer deposits and to provide customer loans and other services at the best conditions for our customers and in those locations where we see best fit.