ING has launched ING Express – a mobile
branch in the Netherlands that integrates an operational office
with a coffee bar – a new take on the mobile bank branch. Leendert
Tange, co-founder of design agency Storeage and Peter van der Werf,
manager for formula management at ING, discuss the initiative with
Meghna Mukerjee.


It is a bank banch and it is on the move. ING
Express is the new concept bank branch from ING in the Netherlands
that can be driven around in a box and assembled anywhere outdoors
within an hour by only one person.

The Netherlands-based retail design agency, Storeage, that
created ING Express, came up with the fully operational model in
less than 6 months. With more bank branches shutting down, ING
Express is an innovative way to stay in touch with customers and
build relationships with potential clients, says partner and
co-founder at Storeage, Leendert Tange.

Given the mobile nature of ING Express, Tange
feels it is “beneficial” for ING to be present in high traffic

“This is ING saying we want to build a
relationship with you, which lasts longer than a visit to an ATM
machine or branch, that is about us coming to our customer versus
our consumer coming to us,”ING Exp said Tange.

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ING Express is mainly service oriented.

“Not only do the people working there know how
to direct you towards the right products and services from ING,
they also excel in service mindedness, as expressed in the cup of
espresso,” says Tange.

With the absence of an ATM machine on ING
Express, no money transactions are possible. However, there are
laptops at ING Express and tellers have access to the sales
station, so customers can carry out some banking operations.

Currently there is one ING Express unit that
has started operations since the beginning of September. The branch
“folds out” from a box, measuring 4 metres long x 2.5 metres high x
2 metres wide when folded, and can accommodate approximately 15
people at one time including two tellers, support staff, additional
staff behind the counters, and visitors.

The box opens from both sides to reveal a
modular coffee bar and office in ING’s bright orange corporate
colour. The coffee bar has an espresso machine and small

“There is a wall that rotates outwards and
that creates a lot more space. The challenge was to find a solution
for when it is raining, as it often does in the Netherlands,” says

ING Express can switch from having a coffee
bar to a lemonade stand and currently runs on two kinds of concepts
– one where customers pay for their drinks and the other where
customers leave a donation for charity.

Eva van Veldhoven of Storeage was lead
designer for ING Express. There were, however, challenges in the
execution of ING Express that Storeage had to overcome.

“To maximise the functionality of the unit, we
needed to provide a space where customers can get financial advice
and have more or less private conversations in a separate area,”
says Tange.

On a technical note, physical stability of ING
Express was a concern for Storeage as it had to be “made sure that
the unit can take the pressure from the wind”.

“So it is remarkable that it [ING Express] can
be set up in an hour,” adds Tange.

So far, ING Express has visited two locations
in the Netherlands – one outside the main ING office when the
mobile-branch was introduced to all ING employees in Netherlands,
and the other when the Wheel of Energy event took place in
Amsterdam and ING took part in a charity race.

Peter van der Werf, manager for formula
management at ING, Netherlands, says ING is choosing locations for
ING Express where there is a lot of traffic and people have time
for a cup of coffee, so that ING can reach customers in a
“non-intrusive way”.

“We are looking to have a friendly chat with a
potential customer or the customers of ING. We thought that when
you drink a cup of coffee you have more time to have a relaxed
session and chat about anything,” Werf tells RBI.

“The ultimate goal is to have a dedicated team
going through the Netherlands the whole year round. Of course you
have to keep in mind the weather conditions, and that weekends are
more expensive than weekdays,” says Werf.

Tange says the same unit can be reused a
number of times, depending on the regular upkeep of ING Express and
the wear and tear that it incurs.

“In the end it is pretty robust. It all
depends on cleaning and damages that will happen, and repairing
such damages. It is very sturdy design-wise,”says Tange.

ING Express is a local initiative particular
to the Netherlands but if the concept is successful, “it is very
easy to duplicate and replicate in other countries so that might be
one of the possibilities” says Werf.

Storeage has previously worked on several
projects with banks to come up with retail branches that are

Storeage stared its work with incorporating a
sporting feel into one of ABN AMRO bank’s branches in the
Netherlands “to give it an energetic environment”.

“When we finished we realised that actually
the idea of physical branches in banking is an idea that exists for
branding purposes, without necessarily offering any real service to
the client,” said Tange. 

Storeage has also created several branches for
Radobank in the Netherlands at railway stations.

Tange feels a mobile branch like ING Express
is more cost effective for banks.

Says Tange, “There is a downside to it in
terms of data – the ATM is harder to integrate because most of the
time it requires specific security measures. But from a service
point of view, you have got one unit, which is moving so this is
offers top of mind awareness.

“It is expanding on the portfolio of your
existing customers as well acquiring new customers”