Netherlands-based ING Bank will exit the retail banking market in the Philippines before the end of 2022, after a change in the lender’s original plan to expand further into the region.
“ING’s retail business in the Philippines was intended as the first step and foundation for a broader Asia retail banking plan,” the bank says. “However, the uncertain global macro situation in the last few years led to ING deciding not to expand the activities to other countries, which meant that the retail operations in the Philippines had to be re-assessed for its scalability as a standalone business.”
ING has assured its retail customers that, for now, there is no change to their accounts and they can continue to access their funds and accounts anytime, and their funds remain safe and secure.
On its website, ING states that it will inform customers of any changes that will impact their accounts. While the bank provided some options on how to close their accounts, it says it is also preparing a new app feature “to make it easier to transfer funds and close your account”.
While ING has been present in the Philippines since 1990, serving corporate and institutional clients, its retail banking operations commenced only in late 2018, as part of a new wave of neobanks that operate on a digital-first model, with little to no branch network, while offering their customers favourable interest rates.
There are currently about 380,000 Philippine customers who have savings or current accounts, or are consumer lending customers. ING Philippines has around 120 employees in both retail and wholesale banking.
However, while it is getting ready to close its retail banking arm, the bank says it will not completely leave the Philippine market since it will continue to invest in its wholesale banking business and global shared services operations in the country.
The bank points out that its ING Business Shared Services Manila (IBSS Manila) continues to grow, from less than 50 employees in 2013 to more than 3,000 today.
IBSS Manila provides 24/7 global support services for ING in areas like financial markets, lending services, client due diligence and on-boarding activities, risk management, retail operations, non-financial risk and compliance, and information technology.
Cees Ovelgonne, CEO of IBSS Manila, says the company will continue to invest in growing its position of supporting ING operations in more than 40 markets.
“Extended capabilities and services have driven our growth and development in recent years,” Ovelgonne notes. IBSS Manila, he adds, will move to a bigger office space in the coming months, “to accommodate our growing diverse teams as we take on additional projects and services this year and beyond”.
The company also says that moving forward, it plans to increase its focus on sustainable finance. Hans Sicat, ING Philippines country head, shares: “We hope to take advantage of the growth prospects in various sectors like renewable energy, technology, media and telecommunications, infrastructure, financial institutions, among others.”