The online bank ING France has closed hundreds of thousands of accounts, affecting at least 300,000 people. A consumer association has accused it of wanting to “get rid of” less profitable accounts.
The accounts appeared to have closed “automatically” from the start of January 2022.
ING France announced it was closing its retail banking business on December 21, 21 years after its arrival on the market. It had first announced that it was completing “a strategic review” of its retail banking business in June.
As a result, it is preparing to sell its retail business to other banks, such as to Société générale (its offshoot Boursorama), or to Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, for its online bank Fortunéo.
Yet, consumer banking association Conso banque has said that ING France has closed 30-40% of its small, inactive accounts because “the future buyer doesn’t want” them.
Association president Michel Guillaud said that ING was “cleaning house”. He told FranceInfo: “They want to get rid of people that they do not consider to be profitable, and that constitute ‘dead weight’”.
The association has now helped to gather a defence committee that is set to take legal action against the bank and its notice period for the closure of the accounts. “People are furious,” said Mr Guillaud.
The group has also created a Facebook group for people affected, called “Les Orphelins d’ING (The Orphans of ING)”, to help provide support and inform people of their rights.
It is legal for a bank to be able to close accounts, but only “on just grounds”, in the same way as companies must have just grounds for dismissal.
The association claims that the company’s actions do not comply with this condition.
Prior to 2022, ING France had around one million customers. Of the group’s 700 employees in France, two-thirds worked in its retail banking business.
In a press release, ING said that “a social plan concerning our 460 employees affected has been agreed on with local unions”.
It also said that it would “ensure our customers are fully supported”, would “continue to provide all banking services” and would “individually inform our customers on developments”.
Globally, ING Bank has more than 38.4million customers and 57,000 employees.