ING Australia posts AU$440m profit amid commitment to environmental sustainability

The 20-year old bank said it upped its operational efficiencies through the use of artificial intelligence, automation, and robotics.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Journalist on

ING Australia has renewed its commitment to being a digitally-enabled bank, vowing to also manage its environmental and social impact.

"We understand the quality of our digital offering is core to delivering a differentiated experience -- an area we continue to invest in," ING wrote in its 2019 annual report [PDF].

"We've improved our operational efficiencies by using AI (artificial intelligence), automation, and robotics technologies to speed up processing, approvals and cycle times across a number of areas, including mortgage and consumer lending applications."

Additionally, ING said moving to a more agile way of working has "boosted collaboration across teams and accelerated the time taken to bring new products and services to market".

ING boasts 830,000 daily interactions with customers through its mobile app.

ING said the mobile app is the only way it interacts with more than a third of its customers.

"We continue to deliver enhancements to the app which give customers the tools to build a sustainable financial future through personalised offers, while ensuring we remain simple and easy to do business with," the bank added.

For the financial year, ING posted AU$440 million in after-tax profit, a 9.7% year on year increase.

During the year, ING spent AU$21 million on technology-related expenses.

423,000 new customers were added during the year, bringing the total active customer base to 1.84 million. 459,000 new accounts were also opened during the period.

"ING celebrated 20 years in Australia with yet another year of record customer growth," said CEO Uday Sareen.

"Over the past four years ING has grown its customer base by more than one million, with over 5% of Australians now nominating ING as their main bank.

"We also have more than 2 million Orange Everyday cards in use in either customer wallets or on their mobile devices."

ING flagged digital banking security and the continuity of its online services as top priorities.

In a bid to mitigate the risk of outages and deliver a high level of service availability, ING said it maintains two data centres and is able to switch operations between the two should there be any issues.

ING said it is aiming for 99.99% availability of all data services to customers, but achieved just shy of that figure in 2019 with an average availability of 99.88%. In 2018, average availability was 99.96%.

Meanwhile, with its commitment to disclosing vulnerabilities to other major banks through the Dutch Banking Association, ING said 88% of reported vulnerabilities in 2019 were remediated, up from the 82% that were remediated in 2018.

See also: APRA received 36 infosec breach notifications from financial services boards

According to ING, banks have a major role to play in financing the transition to a low-carbon economy. Touting the efforts it made over the past 12 months, the bank said considerable progress had been made on steering its lending portfolio towards global climate goals.

"By the end of 2019, we surpassed AU$800m of commitments in the Australian renewables sector," the annual report continued.

Financing of renewables included the 256MW Kiamal solar farm in Victoria, as well as supporting the financing of a 200MW solar farm for Lightsource BP near Wellington in NSW, and the 270MW Snowtown 2 wind farm in South Australia.

"We are committed to steering our portfolio in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, to keep global warming to well below two degrees," ING said.    

"At ING we believe that managing our environmental and social impact is key to achieving our goal of being truly sustainable. It means making sure our operations -- our buildings, data centres and how we use transport -- are in line with the low-carbon economy of the future, that our employees are treated well and that neither we nor our suppliers infringe on human rights."

Its ING Dreamstarter program also continued to support businesses that are working to drive social good, backing nine socially conscious enterprises in 2019, bringing the total to 89.

As of 31 December 2019, the company upped its permanent employees from 1,262 in 2018 to 1,379.



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