ING SLOVAKIA, a branch of ING Nationale-Nederlanden, has announced 2001 profits of Sk193 million, a 114 per cent year-on-year growth. The group also announced the introduction of an Internet portal designed to unify on-line banking and insurance services for its clients.
ING's insurance branch achieved a 13.5 per cent share of the Slovak life insurance market and controlled 6 per cent of the aggregate commercial insurance market, ranking it fifth among the county's commercial insurers. The company also recorded 19,500 new policies last year, bringing its total to 127,707.
After paying indemnities of Sk250 million last year, ING closed 2001 with technical reserves of Sk3.2 billion, said general director for retail services in Slovakia and the Czech Republic Ewout Steenbergen.
Total revenues in the company climbed by 12 per cent to over Sk2.1 billion, while expenditures increased only seven per cent to Sk1.98 billion, it was announced on March 21.
"We are strong enough to build more market share in life insurance," said Steenbergen, who expects to see the same growth rate of written premiums this year, as well as an increase in technical reserves to Sk4 billion.
Steenbergen also introduced the company's "click-call-face" strategy, whereby many banking and insurance services are available through ING's new Internet portal, through its call-centre or in person at ING's various branch offices.
The portal, myING.sk, is a pilot program which ING would like to eventually implement throughout central and eastern Europe. Slovakia was chosen as the pilot country due to its pace of technological development and to its level of Internet penetration, which Steenbergen put at 20 per cent, compared to 17 per cent in the Czech Republic and 14 per cent in Hungary.
The site, which features a customisable layout of news, market reports and stock listings as well as banking and insurance services, unifies three portals ING has operated in the past for corporate clients, said Steenbergen. It also brings a wider range of services to clients of ING's Konto Internet banking department.
Increasing Internet services, says Steenbergen, is a key to improving overall performance. He said: "Because our distribution model is more efficient, we have lower costs and can offer higher interest rates than other banks in Slovakia."
On-line banking is a rapidly-growing sector in Slovakia, with nearly 200,000 clients using various banking services. Tatra banka, which started the first Internet bank less than two years ago, remains the leader in the field and counts around 70,000 Internet clients, while Všeobecná úverová banka (VÚB) reports more than 60,000 users of its on-line service.
ING remained in fifth place among insurers last year, with 6 per cent of the aggregate commercial insurance market. Slovenská Poisťovňa continued to lead the field with 23 per cent of aggregate output, followed by Kooperatíva with 15.8 per cent, Allianz with 12.6 percent and AIG Amslico with 8.3 per cent.
Aggregate premiums in Slovakia's insurance market surpassed Sk32 billion in 2001, a year-on-year increase of 17.2 per cent. Allianz's takeover of Slovenská Poisťovňa last year was the biggest development in the insurance market, and led to strong growth in the life insurance sector.
1. Apr 2002 at 0:00 | Dewey Smolka