ING’s birth is a story of disruption in itself. Back in 1991, the banking business of Dutch-based NMB Postbank Groep and the insurance business of Nationale-Nederlanden merged to form ING Group. Between 1991 and 2005, the ING Group went on to acquire over 15 banking, asset management and insurance businesses, and also expanded its operations internationally.

ING set foot in Australia in 1999 and brought along its trademark Direct Banking business called ING Direct – a concept it developed in collaboration with NMB Postbank for overseas direct banking. This was a savings account that came with high savings rates and no frills, and could be accessed online from anywhere. ING pioneered innovation in banking at a time when the internet was still catching up in many parts of the world and mobile phones were a luxury. While several financial institutions were adapting to the new era of internet banking and ATMs, ING was already leveraging a scalable cloud solution and network platform that offered a simple and effective solution for customers to access and serviced transactions electronically.

According to Engaged Strategy’s 2018 Banking Consumer Recommendation and Loyalty Study, ING scored the highest in certain key aspects such as customers’ call centre experience and ease of use of ING’s mobile application. However, the differentiator seemed to lie in customers’ satisfaction with the low fees and charges that ING offered. The model of a branchless bank has helped ING over the years translate its cost to income ratio into higher returns on savings and lower rates for mortgages to customers.

According to ING’s website, the company started charting a surge in customer deposits and mortgages with a 6% profit in 2015 (source). The growth continued through 2016. Between the financial year of 2017-2018, ING Australia added over 300,000 new customers, with a 68% annual increase in primary bank customers. ING attributed 40% of its new growth in 2017 to customer referrals (source).

A combination of ROI, technology and good call centre experience has helped ING improve customer satisfaction levels and enhance its consumer base via word of mouth recommendations. It is no wonder that ING’s Net Promoter Score as per Engaged Strategy’s Intelligent Industry Analytics, ING’s NPS was recorded at +48 per cent, way above the industry average of +12 per cent. Compare this to the amalgamated NPS of -10 per cent of the Big 4 banks – National Australia Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank (CBA), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and Westpac (WBC) – and it is clear that ING’s disruptive technology innovation in banking offers a clear value proposition to customers over the otherwise homogenous offerings by the Big Four.