Dutch bank ING said this week that it received a lot of phone calls to explain to clients its intentions to sell client data to retailers. ING revealed its plans in an exclusive interview with one financial newspaper and not published this news to the broad public at the same time. It seems as if the plans are a surprise to everyone. As a consequence, the phone at ING did not stop ringing and discussions are broadly taking place on different levels in society.
The bank argues that selling client data is in the interest of retailers, who want to make customised offers by means of ING client data. The question is if this is also in the interest of ING clients. Retailers and clients might be more interested in ING sticking to its core business and help prevent online paying issues, since security of online payment is a priority. ING has been frequently in the news about issues concerning its online banking system.
The general question is raised what the role should be of banks. Is it wrong for banks to start to analyse its client payment details and sell these details to third parties for commercial purposes, even if credit companies would already do this? After all, clients will be asked for their approval. What is the value of the Dutch banking code, which states that banks should be extremely careful with client data?
Banks are commercial institutions but this commercial plan tends to be against everything a bank stands for, an institution where our money and client data are safe and protected.