What if you didn't have the Internet?

Buying your train tickets, paying in a shop, listening to music or even finding your perfect match... Digital technology has become an essential part of our daily lives.

However, in 2022, 10% of Belgians still don’t have an internet connection at home and 55% don’t know how to carry out administrative procedures online (1). This is because some people don’t have access to digital tools while others have few or no skills and are therefore at risk of digital exclusion.

At ING, we try to bridge this digital divide so that everyone can find their place in a safe digital environment. What barriers exist and what solutions can we provide?

1st barrier: access to digital tools

Although the prices of smartphones or computers are more accessible than they were a few years ago, a part of the population cannot afford to buy an electronic device. This exclusion exists close to home and may affect a neighbour or family member.

Solution: recycle and donate appliances

ING supports Close The Gap, an international non-profit organisation that provides second-hand IT equipment, training programmes and technical support to projects in developing countries. In 2020, 131,500 devices were collected and 1,356 projects supported. ING contributed 3,253 donated devices. 


Concrete impact of laptop refurbishment in terms of CO2 emission reduction

You too can make a difference:

  • Do you have a company? Then you too can donate your unused computer equipment to Close The Gap, who will take care of the collection, reconditioning and reporting.
  • Are you a private individual? You can donate or resell your appliance at the shop (if you buy a new one), at the Recycling Point (when you do your shopping) or at the Recyparc near you. A collection point is never far away: there are thousands of them in Belgium.

2nd barrier: the use of digital tools

The digital divide is not just about access but also about use. Even with an electronic device and a good connection, there can be the added problem of lack of digital skills.

Illectronism or digital illiteracy

Illectronism is the fact of having difficulties in using digital tools. 40% of Belgians suffer from a lack of digital skills and 13% of young people in secondary education have never used a computer or tablet.

Solution: supporting digitally excluded groups

Initiatives exist to provide personal assistance to people in need, to teach them how to use digital applications and platforms and to answer their questions in a simple and human way.

In 2005, ING created a philanthropic fund managed by the King Baudouin Foundation. The ING Fund for a more digital society finances many projects that support the digital inclusion of the most disadvantaged or train social helpers. For example, the Brussels organisation Bibliothèque Sans Frontières, a 2021 ING Fund winner, trains digital helpers and is setting up a network of “digital buddies” in Wallonia.

In addition, ING also offers direct support to some of its customers via BeeGo's “digibuddies”. These IT students provide customers with personal assistance in using their home banking application.

Find out how BeeGo's digibuddies give people the confidence to start using digital applications.

You too can make a difference:

Feel free to spread the word to people you know who are facing digital exclusion. Solutions exist to help them.

You can also take concrete action and become a digital buddy with the relevant associations.

Security on the Internet

Is my banking app secure? How do I recognise fraud on my account? What do I do if I lose my smartphone? These are examples of some of the many issues that banking users may face when conducting online transactions.

So that customers can get started securely, ING offers tips and workshops to help them make digital payments and manage their finances easily and securely. A range of topics is covered, from phishing to many other forms of fraud, as well as the principles of online banking.


Accessibility and disability

Browsing the Internet or using a smartphone with a disability can also be difficult. Many tools exist but represent an additional cost. As a bank, we are also aware of the specific needs of people with disabilities or reduced mobility. That is why we are constantly striving to improve access to our services both in branch and online. ING supports the non-profit organisation Eqla, which trains visually impaired people to work easily with digital tools, via the ING Fund for a more digital society.

ING's commitment to health and financial inclusion

  • We are committed to the 10 action points of the Belgian banking sector with regard to (digital) inclusion (link to page in French).
  • We have joined forces with the King Baudouin Foundation to support digital inclusion and financial education in Belgium.
  • We have signed up to the UN Principles for Responsible Banking’s Commitment to Financial Health and Inclusion.
  • We signed the Charter for Digital Inclusion in Belgium, thus joining Digit'All, the ecosystem of actors committed to fighting the digital divide.

Would you like to know more?

As a bank, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to help people feel more financially comfortable. The first step is to ensure that certain basic elements are in place. This includes access to products and services in an increasingly digital world, while maintaining physical support and interaction.