ING DIRECT is Capital One 360: Now what?
February 04, 2013
ING DIRECT officially becomes Capital One 360 this month, completing Capital One’s acquisition of the online banking pioneer. So what does that mean for ING's customers?
Having your bank taken over is bound to raise questions. Some changes will be obvious and immediate: Besides the name change from ING DIRECT to Capital One 360, customers will now access their accounts at www.capitalone360.com rather than the old ING DIRECT website. But other changes will take longer to become apparent. Will customer service be affected? Will interest rates change? Will new fees appear over time?
While millions of ING DIRECT customers may wonder if this changeover is a good time to look at other banks, there are several points they should consider before making a switch.
1. This wasn't a hostile takeover
ING DIRECT's Dutch parent company was required to sell its U.S. subsidiary as part of a restructuring agreement with the European Commission. So ING DIRECT's U.S. operations were going to be sold one way or another.
This is an important detail. A hostile takeover can sour relationships inside an organization. But in this case Capital One simply played a necessary role in acquiring an organization that had to be sold.
2. The ING customer service operation remains the same
Laura DiLello, formerly of ING DIRECT but now Capital One's corporate relations spokesperson, says that Capital One 360 has retained the former ING customer service organization.
"Since the acquisition last February, we have been and will continue to provide the same customer service experience," DiLello said in an email interview. "There have been no changes to the ING DIRECT service organization."
3. Capital One has extensive experience with deposits
Because of its aggressive advertising campaigns, Capital One is probably known to most consumers as a credit card company. But they actually had more money in deposit accounts than ING DIRECT prior to the acquisition.
4. The acquisition brings a branch system into the equation
ING DIRECT was purely an online bank. Capital One had online accounts, but was primarily a branch-based bank with more than 900 offices in eight states plus the District of Columbia. This fundamental difference could either mean that the acquisition brings complementary attributes together -- or that there is a culture clash in the making.
But even before the acquisition, Capital One had a substantial amount of online accounts in addition to its branch-based customer base. That may mean that any organizational struggle between the two models may already have run its course at Capital One.
5. There are no plans to change online savings account rates
DiLello says that there are no immediate plans to change the rate for online savings accounts, which is currently 0.75 percent. Significantly, this is the same rate ING DIRECT used to place seventh in the most recent MoneyRates.com's America Best Rates survey.
6. Capital One will still distinguish between online and branch-based accounts
This could be a key factor in maintaining the competitiveness of the online rates. By creating the separate online brand of Capital One 360, Capital One seems to be reinforcing the distinction between the online and branch-based customer experience.
"What sets direct online banking products apart from branch products is the amount of customer self service, thus there are less costs associated with the products," DiLello says. "Our ability to keep direct banking products fee-free and with high rates is based on the low cost involved in maintaining them."
7. Changes after an acquisition can take years to appear
Don't expect all the changes to be evident on day one of the re-branding to Capital One 360. The fallout from acquisitions sometimes occurs a year or two down the line. In short, even if things go well at first, customers will want to remain alert for any gradual policy changes.
8. Your next bank may not be immune to an acquisition either
If you change banks now, it's still possible that you'll have to deal with a different acquisition or merger down the road. As banks continue to grapple with challenging regulatory and economic conditions, don't be surprised if the pace of mergers and acquisitions increases over the next year.
Still want to switch?
If you decide it's time for a change, remember that it is usually best to open your new account and start using it for a while before closing your old account -- especially where checking accounts are concerned. This gives you an opportunity to make sure all payments have cleared, and to make new arrangements for automatic transactions like direct deposit and automated bill paying. Then, when all activity in the old account has ceased, you can make the transition official.
Still, no matter how you handle it, changing bank accounts requires some effort. If you are an ING customer whose account has been acquired by Capital One, waiting to see how the transition goes before switching may save you some trouble in the end.