Cooperation and competition

“There is an attitude here of being responsive to your customers that is hugely far off in other countries,” says Piet Mallekoote, CEO at Currence. Cooperating to be more competitive, the online payments system iDeal saves both consumers and merchants money – and could perhaps only ever have come from the ‘polder mentality’ found in the Netherlands. According to Mallekoote, “we think in the Netherlands that cooperation is needed to bake the pie and then competition is there for dividing the pie,” and Max Geerling, head of Currence’s card products and iDeal, adds: “There is a history in the Netherlands of cooperation… and not only between banks, but all industries. The ‘polder model’ in the Netherlands is part of our culture.” The cited ‘polder model’ denotes a system of cooperation embedded in the Dutch psyche due to centuries of fighting the encroaching sea. It is about consensus building for the greater good and pervades every area of life, from labour negotiations to government policy. 

Currence, in short

Currence was founded in January 2005, as a financial initiative of eight Dutch banks: ABN AMRO, Rabobank, ING Groep, Fortis, SNS Bank, BNG, Friesland Bank and Van Lanschot. Its original remit was to run and maintain Dutch payment systems: to make them transparent, safe and fair. But it has also been something of an innovator. It helps to facilitate super-quick interbank transfers for consumers, where in other countries a three-day wait can be common. Currence now runs four main payment systems, which often offer solutions that are rare to find in other countries. 


An electronic payments card that stores value in a similar way to a phone card or electronic public transport pass. Used for small transactions, you load up value as an alternative to small change for shops, car parks and anywhere else that has a terminal. One main advantage is that terminals do not need to be connected to the banking system in the same way that PIN (EFTPOS) terminals are. From a peak of 170 million transactions in 2011, its use is fading, and it will no longer be valid after 1 January 2015.


A credit transfer system that links payments through a 16-digit code. Mostly used for bill payments, invoices are sent out with an Acceptgiro code that the payer enters when making their internet banking payment. It helps ensure that payments are immediately recognised and cuts down transfer delays.


The Dutch direct debit system. 


Online payments based on a bank transfer via internet banking. As an online shopper, when you get to the payments page, just choose the iDeal logo instead of a credit card or PayPal to pay directly from your internet bank account and incur no fees.

Read full testimonial here.