A quarter century later, did ING Direct live up to the hype?
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A quarter century later, did ING Direct live up to the hype?


Twenty-five years ago in Spain, ING launched a branchless bank – still its biggest greenfield retail operation. Euromoney asks Iberia chief executive Ignacio Juliá Vilar what still makes it stand out from both incumbents and newer arrivals.

In May, ING is celebrating a quarter of a century since it launched a new telephone- and later internet-only bank in Europe.

This is the closest that it will come to celebrating the birthday of what was previously known as ING Direct, a platform that allowed the Dutch firm to grow rapidly in numerous markets abroad, without doing M&A.

Globally, ING Direct’s launch was in 1997, so slightly more than a quarter of a century ago. But that was in Canada, preceding a launch shortly afterwards in the US, which was the main objective in North America.

Few at ING will have celebrated its North American anniversary. Capital One bought ING Direct’s US business in 2010 as part of a restructuring plan agreed with the European Union, relating to the bailout money the group received after the 2008 crisis. ING Direct Canada ended up looking like a loose end. In 2012, it was sold to Scotiabank.

However, it is 25 years since ING Direct’s launch in Spain, which like Canada was something of a pilot before the bank was launched in bigger regional markets. And ING is celebrating that anniversary in Spain, summoning a group of Madrid-based journalists in late April to attend a presentation by a local business school, Esade, on the firm’s growth since its Spanish launch on May 12, 1999.


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EMEA editor
Dominic O’Neill is EMEA editor. He joined Euromoney in 2007 to cover emerging markets, focusing on central and eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and later on Latin America. Based in London, he has covered developed market banking since 2015.
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