Tangerine takes up no-fee banking legacy from ING Direct

ING Direct forged new ground in Canada when it entered the market in 1997, promising to be different from the big banks. Today it is owned by Scotiabank and its name is changing to Tangerine, but it pledges to remain an innovator.
Peter Aceto, president and CEO of Tangerine, says the bank plans to keep challenging traditional banking. (CBC)

ING Direct forged new ground in Canada when it entered the market in 1997, promising to be different from the big banks with its fee-free banking, low mortgage rates and higher interest on savings deposits.

After Scotiabank bought the Canadian operations of Dutch bank ING Groep for $3.1 billion in 2012, it was clear changes were coming, a development that spooked the online bank’s 1.8 million customers.

Scotiabank pledged to operate the bank as a stand-alone business, but the name had to go by 2014.

As of today, ING Direct becomes known as Tangerine, a name that reflects its orange marketing materials and, according to the company, was chosen after consultation with 10,000 Canadians. The new company tagline is “forward banking.”

Tangerine CEO Peter Aceto says the bank remains consumer-friendly and an innovator in the marketplace, despite the change of ownership.

“This was important in the conversations we had with Scotia over whether they would buy us, over whether this would be successful or not. The message was simple. We’ve always tried to be a challenger and that cannot change,” Aceto said in an interview with CBC’s The Lang & O’Leary Exchange.

“All of the reasons why they [customers] came, whether it was rate, or whether it was to do business with someone who’s different, that spoke different, none of those things have changed either,” he added.

Among its innovations is the addition of a mobile banking app and more changes are coming.

Beginning in May, customers will have no-fee access to their money through the Scotiabank ATM network, including machines at Shell, 7-Eleven, Quickie convenience stores, Cineplex Theatres and Couche-Tard.

On the negative side, Scotia cut off mortgage broker business with Tangerine-ING, saying brokerage lending would be funneled through Scotiabank.

 “We’re on a trajectory to grow our customer base by over 100,000 Canadians joining the bank. I think that speaks volumes in terms of growing our customer base and keeping our customers,” Aceto said.

Scotiabank gets the advantage of an opportunity to grow its customer base in a banking market that is otherwise quite mature, Aceto said.

“I think Scotiabank sees us as an amazing growth engine to grow a customer base and do more with the customers we have,” Aceto said.


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