For us, innovation is about creating a differentiating experience for clients. Recognised as one of Forbes magazine’s most innovative companies, ING has a variety of ways of turning great ideas into products and services that clients really need.
These include in-house innovations, investing in and partnering with financial technology (fintech) companies via ING Ventures, as well as developing our own unique innovation method, PACE.
ING has Labs in four cities (Amsterdam, Brussels, London and Singapore) where we partner with others to bring disruptive ideas to market by combining our knowledge and network with their knowledge and skills.
We innovate ourselves where we can, but we are also constantly on the lookout for external partnerships with companies that offer a distinctive customer experience.
For instance, we partnered with international payments company TransferMate to give our business clients a faster, cheaper and easier payments solution. ING’s investment in TransferMate not only gives our clients a broader choice of payments solutions, but helps them keep their costs low as they can send and receive international payments in the same way as local ones.
ING is one of the pioneers of blockchain in the financial sector. This work isn’t going unnoticed – we’re ranked fifth among global listed companies with the highest blockchain potential for 2019 in Forbes.
Our blockchain team started experimenting with distributed ledgers in 2016, after laying the groundwork the years before. As one of the leading trade commodity finance banks, ING has been digitalising the sector with blockchain initiatives like Easy Trading Connect (ETC). ETC teamed up with Societe Generale to create and test the first prototype of the platform on a crude oil cargo shipment trade.
A bank’s average time to complete the transaction went from about three hours to 25 minutes. For traders, efficiency went up 33 percent. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) proved itself again in ETC’s second phase, when it completed the first agricultural commodity trade. A soybean shipment transaction was done at five times the speed of a traditional trade. No paper contracts, certificates or manual checks. It reduced fraud risk, lowered costs, increased safety, and allowed participants to monitor the trade’s progress in real time.
These pilots were the starting point for two independent DLT-based companies: Vakt, a platform that digitalises the post-trade process of energy commodities, and Komgo, for which we teamed up with the world’s top commodity banks and energy players to continue to strengthen the security in trade finance.
Explorations in how DLT could transform other sectors have led ING to become part of MineHub – a technology company that uses DLT to reduce processes and approvals from weeks to hours and cut down the paperwork for transport, invoicing and payments in the mining industry.
To overcome one of the financial industry’s biggest obstacles to using blockchain and DLT, privacy, we have been working on zero-knowledge proofs, a cryptographic primitive that enables questions in a transaction to be answered without sharing the data itself. Such as proving that a payment amount is within a limit, but not showing the exact amount. We have released three open-source zero-knowledge projects, inviting external developers to improve privacy standards with us.
Whether on our own or with others, we are investing in offering clients a better service.