The first ING DIRECT in the world was launched right here in Canada. In every sense of the word this global brand is truly a Canadian success story. Why did we launch here in Canada? For excellent reasons. First, in 1997 Canadians had no real choice in banking. Sure there were five big banks, but no real choice. Before we opened our virtual doors, one bank's savings account looked pretty much like another. And they all performed about the same too. All offered low interest (unless you could meet demanding minimums) and came loaded with service charges.
We knew we could give Canadians real choice in banking, and a much needed break from fees, service charges, and low interest.
We opened for business in April 1997 with a television commercial that humbly announced "We are new here". Canadians immediately responded by saying "We're glad you're here". It was very gratifying. The spark that ignited in Canada became an orange flame, and ING DIRECT quickly moved beyond our borders. Clearly, a good idea travels fast.
ING DIRECT Spain and Australia opened in 1999, followed by France and the United States in 2000, Italy and Germany in 2001, the UK in 2003, and Austria in 2004.
Canada became the first profitable ING DIRECT in 2001, and that continues today. As of 2011, ING DIRECT Canada has over 1.78 million Clients, employs over 900 people and has over $38 billion in assets. We are growing at a tremendous rate. But even more important than our own success is the fact that we have paid over $5 billion in interest to our Clients while collecting exactly $0 in fees and service charges.
Choice is good.