Dutch multinational banking and financial services ING Group has launched ING Ventures, a EUR 300 million fund aimed at investing in fintech startups and scaleups. To accelerate the pace of innovation, one of ING’s strategic priorities, ING Ventures will expand the existing portfolio of investments in the coming 4 year
ING considers partnering with and investing in fintech companies as key catalysts for delivering on its ‘Think Forward’ innovation strategy. Launched in 2014, ‘Think Forward’ strategy entails a more focused approach on placing ‘customers at the heart’ of what the bank does. ING Ventures will serve ING’s businesses to accelerate its think forward strategy.
The company states that it will primarily invest in fintech startups and scaleups that are active in countries where ING has a presence or where ING has the intention to expand. The fund will focus on startups and companies that already gained some market traction and invest in seed as well as larger growth rounds. ING is currently active in over 40 countries.
“Our focus is to foster strategic partnerships with startups and scaleups alike”, says Diederik Heinink, spokesperson of ING Group, to StartupJuncture. Adding. “Critical to these partnerships is that they help us to deliver on our ambition of empowering our customers to stay a step ahead in life and in business.”
This focus on creating customer value is also the main and primary criterion for the bank. Apart from that the investment thesis of ING Ventures is quite broad categorized in the ‘innovation priorities’: ‘disrupt core infrastructur’e i.e. products and services. ‘Develop platforms.’ ‘Develop beyond banking propositions.’
Heinink mentions the instant lending platform Kabbage is an example of a fruitful partnership. “Kabbage offers entrepreneurs and small business owners to possibility get business loans in 10 minutes. This is a good example, because it’s completely in line with our ambition. To really help our customers. Entrepreneurs that are busy with growing their company and don’t have the leeway to invest a lot of time in fundraising.” Heinink: “Because of the succes in the last few years of Kabbage in Spain we will expand to France and Italy in the near future.”
New and better customers experiences
“ING has been very active in developing strategic partnerships and investing in fintechs that help to empower our customers to stay a step ahead in life and in business. This has worked very well: our current partnerships have resulted in products and services that are making the lives of our customers easier, say Benoît Legrand, CEO of ING Ventures and global head of ING Fintech. Adding: “As we see changes in the external environment happen faster and faster, we have to anticipate and step up our pace as well. Establishing this fund is yet another way for ING to use the digital revolution as a growth opportunity and help transform the bank to become the go-to platform for financial needs and become part of other platforms.”
Yolt, Payconinq, Fintonic, WeLab and the aforementiond Kabbage are examples of these partnerships. As an example of propositions that are ‘beyond banking’ Heinink mentions a energy bill comparison site and international money transfer solutions.
The ING Ventures 300 million fund is one of the biggest corporate venture funds in the Netherlands. “I think that if you really want to have significant impact you have to back your ambition with a fund of this size. But a relentless focus on providing customer value is what counts most” says Heinink. “We are interested in partnering with startups and scalesups that are keen on developing new and better customers experiences leveraging the latest technologies available.” To the question what entpreneurs should do when they are in doubt if they fit the profile Heinink says: “We aim to develop partnerships with companies that work in the realm of finance. But not only. So always get in touch with and we can take it from there”
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