ING to exit PHL retail banking business by this year

ING BANK N.V.-Manila will leave the Philippine retail banking market before 2022 ends, just about three years after its foray into the space, due to uncertain global conditions that affected its operations in the country.

“ING’s retail business in the Philippines was intended as the first step and foundation for a broader Asia retail banking plan. Since its launch in 2018, the business has demonstrated good progress, commercial momentum and growth potential,” the lender said in a statement on Friday.

“However, the uncertain global macro situation in the last few years led to ING deciding not to expand the activities to other countries, which meant that the retail operations in the Philippines had to be re-assessed for its scalability as a standalone business,” ING Bank added.

The bank assured its retail clients that their funds are safe and will remain accessible as it will continue to operate as usual until its exit from the business.

It said their customers can visit its website for information and updates on the impending shutdown of its retail business, including on how to close their accounts. It will no longer accept account opening requests.

Still, ING Bank said it will retain its wholesale banking business and global shared services operations in the Philippines.

“ING has a history in the Philippines that goes back more than 30 years. In that time, we’ve developed strong and steady partnerships with a number of the country’s largest corporations and financial institutions,” ING Philippines Country Manager Hans B. Sicat was quoted as saying in the statement.

“ING will continue to invest in growing our wholesale banking business to strengthen our position in the country, and we have plans to increase our focus on sustainable finance… We hope to take advantage of the growth prospects in various sectors like renewable energy, technology, media & telecommunications, infrastructure, financial institutions, among others,” Mr. Sicat added.

ING Bank has been operating in the Philippines as a wholesale lender since 1990 and entered the retail banking business in late 2018. It launched an all-digital savings bank platform in early 2019.

In 2013, the lender established ING Business Shared Services B.V. Branch Office or IBSS Manila to provide 24/7 global support for ING in areas including retail operations, financial markets, trade finance, lending services, due diligence, audit, legal, risk management and compliance, and IT and software development, among others.

“Extended capabilities and services have driven our growth and development in recent years. We have had to move to bigger premises several times since 2013; and have plans to take up an additional 12 floors in One Ayala Tower 2 in the next few months to accommodate our growing diverse teams as we take on additional projects and services this year and beyond,” IBSS Manila Chief Executive Officer Cees Ovelgonne said.

ING Bank was the 32nd biggest commercial lender in the country in asset terms with P31.46 billion at end-2021.

The lender’s move comes after Citigroup in 2021 likewise announced its exit from its consumer banking business in the country, along with other Asia-Pacific markets.

Citigroup has sold its Philippine consumer portfolio, including its credit card, personal loans, wealth management and retail deposit businesses, to UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. for P55 billion.

The acquisition also includes Citi’s real estate interests in relation to Citibank Square in Eastwood, three full-service bank branches, five wealth centers and two bank branch lites. — Keisha B. Ta-asan