Driven By Data: Q&A With ING’s Chief Analytics Officer Bahadir Yilmaz

Bahadir Yilmaz, ING’s chief analytics officer, explains how the Dutch bank is harnessing AI’s power and what this means for ING and its customers.

Global Finance: How will artificial intelligence (AI) influence banking of the future?

Bahadir Yilmaz: AI enables faster and smarter decision-making in a personalized fashion, using much bigger datasets than ever before. Data combined with superior analytics leads to insight and foresight, which allows us to give our customers a superior experience that is easy, personal, instant and relevant. We would like to position analytics and AI as the most critical enablers in transforming our operations. We have the people, the knowledge and the management support to achieve this. Long term, we must stay close to the latest developments in the market, so we must stay relevant. Therefore, having an active and safe approach toward technologies like generative AI is key.

GF: How does ING balance innovation with Europe’s more cautious approach to generative AI (genAI)?

Yilmaz: ING supports innovation while ensuring that neither the bank nor our customers are exposed to any risks related to innovation or experimentation. Innovation initiatives must be done in a responsible, structured and supervised way. This is especially true for genAI, a new technology in uncharted territory. We recognize it has potential benefits, so to test this, we’re taking a tightly controlled and focused approach where we can apply genAI and learn from controlled experiments. As a bank, we have access to a lot of personal information about our customers. They trust us to keep this data as safe as their money. We have a responsibility to safeguard their information, protect their privacy and ensure our systems and online environment are secure. We also must leverage the potential of AI in a responsible manner, aiming to keep the bank safe by focusing on and prioritizing domains like KYC, detection of financial crime, fraud and sustainability.

GF: How are you future-proofing ING’s use of genAI?

Yilmaz: ING recognizes the potential of genAI. It’s all about providing a better customer experience. We want our customers to interact with us in a personal, fast, relevant and easy way. We are taking a prudent and responsible approach to doing this safely and securely and exploring opportunities in two areas: customer contact, such as chatbots and transcript analysis, and software engineering to write code or fix bugs.

These experiments have shown there is value in incorporating genAI into our processes. Now we’re going to expand our experiments into areas like marketing—with consent from the customer—KYC and Wholesale Banking lending, where we believe genAI can potentially transform our business processes and contribute to a superior customer experience.

GF: What is innovation’s role at ING, and what other technologies are involved?

Yilmaz: ING has a reputable and well-regarded approach to innovation. Innovation in terms of using technology to improve our services and the customer experience continuously has always been a key part of our strategy. We aim to create products and services that seamlessly provide solutions to our customers regardless of segment and business line. Everything around us—from our customers’ needs and expectations to the business environment—continues to change increasingly rapidly. Many of these environmental changes are, and need to be dealt with, within the core of ING as part of our “business as usual” process improvements and our ongoing digital transformation.