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Dutch privacy watchdog tells banks not to use customer payment data for marketing

Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens tells banks to respect client privacy and not to market products based on spending data

Dutch data protection authority the Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) has told banks they cannot offer customers products based on their spending data.

According to, this follows complaints about marketing plans revealed recently by Dutch bank ING.

“Payment details really give a complete picture of someone’s life: where you spend your money, the associations you belong to, who you get on with, visible patterns. This is why the AP thinks it’s important to remind the banking sector about privacy regulations,” said Katja Mur, a board member of the AP.

The privacy watchdog said it had seen evidence that more banks were using client payment details for direct marketing purposes, and hence warned all banks in a letter to Dutch banking association the NVB.

The letter said certain transactions were considered particularly sensitive in terms of privacy law, such as payments to hospitals, pharmacies and casinos, and that bank clients had an expectation of privacy.

ING told that it understands that the AP closely monitors the use of customer data for marketing purposes.

“The bank is currently studying the statement and has entered into talks with the AP,” it said. “ING does not currently send its customers personal offers for relevant ING goods and services based on transaction data, and will not start these practices for the time being.”

Hans Tesselaar, executive director at not-for-profit banking IT development organisation BIAN, which has many European banks, including ING, as members, said there was a lot of caution across Europe about organisations accessing personal data.

“After the scandal with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, people have become more reluctant, especially if it involves sharing financial data,” he said.

Jeroen van der Kroft, associate partner of EY Financial Services Advisory, recently told Computer Weekly that a survey by the company regarding open banking (PSD2) found that Dutch citizens were worried about how their data is used.

“Our survey, the Open Banking Index, shows that only 18% of Dutch people are willing to share their own transaction data with other parties,” he said.

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