Banks working with startups ‘creates a win, win, win situation’

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Startups play an important role in helping incumbent financial services companies to innovate and make the most of new and emerging technologies, according to Ralph Hamers, CEO of ING Group.

Speaking at the Money 20/20 Europe conference in Copenhagen, the CEO said many bankers at the event may well feel like an “endangered species”, surrounded by innovative FinTech startups.

To a degree, they should, he said, with 35%-40% of banks’ revenue at risk due to the rise of FinTech companies.

“The purpose of ING is to help people stay a step ahead in life,” Hamers explained, and said the bank, which has its headquarters in the Netherlands, has appointed a chief innovation officer and created an Innovation Bootcamp in order to pursue this goal.

Making mistakes

The teams, or ‘squads’, that take part in the bootcamps work together for three intensive months to improve their product offerings, but also to “fail fast” too.

“I don’t mind people making mistakes,” Hamers said, “We encourage people to try and sometimes they fail. Failure is learning.”

He went on to say the bank enjoys working with startups as it promotes innovation within the banks, which he believes is important.

“We should disrupt ourselves before others disrupt us,” he added.

Hamer stressed that ING isn’t a VC firm, it’s a bank, so a hands-off investment approach isn’t what he is about. The value he believes he adds for startups is in the scale-up to corporate journey.

He said there are a lot of FinTech companies out there that he is interested in working with, and ING has already established more than 40 partnerships, including with small business loan provider Kabbage and internet finance technology firm WeLab.

The areas the bank is looking to make partnerships in at present include money management, aggregation, payment services and customer onboarding.

Speaking to startup members in the audience, he said: “The way I think the way we can truly work together is where you have the ideas and proven concepts that can truly help the experiences of our consumers, I think we have a very good base for a working relationship.”

Doing so would create a “win, win, win – a win for the startup, a win for the bank and a win for the consumer”.