August 10, 2019

Dutch Bunq client attacked over rainbow card

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 9:00 am

Bunq, a relatively new Dutch bank based in Amsterdam, recently had one of their clients attacked in India while trying to pay with the bank’s rainbow coloured bank card. Founder and CEO of Bunq Ali Niknam said he was shocked about this incident on social media.

The client ended up in the hospital. Comments on social media included making the card ‘less gay’, but then beating a person over a bank card, not even for money, is a violent crime. The gay rainbow flag doesn’t even use the same colours: it has six colours (missing one to make it a rainbow), while Bunq uses a few more different colours on its cards and 12 on its logo. Other companies including Apple have used and still use rainbow colours and that’s still not a reason to beat someone up, neither is being homophobic, if that was the case.

Nikham wrote a nice ‘message of love’ about the incident, something I cannot picture any other bank doing these days, so hats off to him (nope, 24oranges HQ is with another bank). Our Twitter timeline was full of folks from India denouncing this behaviour or explaining it away in shame, as it is criminal, violent behaviour. Over a piece of plastic.

(Link and photo:

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May 5, 2018

Rabobank uses animal and plants for client privacy

Filed under: General,Online by Orangemaster @ 1:14 pm

To comply with the General Protection Data Regulation that will enter into force on 25 May 2018, the Dutch bank Rabobank has found a nifty way of using client data without having to ask permission: by assigning Latin animal and plant names to their clients data, pseudonymising it. They also claim it’s something they were toying around four years ago when the GPDR wasn’t on anybody’s radar, but yeah, Google was doing that back then as well with animal and creatures names that anonymised Google docs users.

Special software was developed by IBM to make people’s data unrecognisable, but still useable for analysis. The software is currently part of a service aimed at a small group of financial organisations. Later, it will also be used in retail and healthcare.


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November 25, 2016

Boycott against ING over Dakota pipeline rallies Dutch Facebook users

Filed under: Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 1:19 pm

ing-boycott-facebookOver the past few days, stuck among the daily river of memes, one stood out because friends were making a commitment: they were going to cancel their account with Dutch consumer bank ING over the bank’s investments in the controversial Dakota pipeline.

Frances Ro started talking to ING on their Facebook page and made a very simple demand: “Show me that you’re on the right side of history. Prove that you won’t let large interests stand in the way of a livable planet. Let’s say that we’ll find a solution before 1 January. If not, I’ll be your ex-customer from that day on.”

Ro’s problems with ING’s investment are that the Dakota pipeline allegedly endangers the drinking water of millions of people and destroys territory that is culturally significant to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. According to her, ING has invested 250 million USD in the project.

ING ummed and ahed in response, suggesting they were hoping the controversy would go away by itself: “We have confidence in the proper administration of justice and the careful consideration of the case by the US government.”

The bank seems to have found itself in a perfect storm. Together with ABN Amro and Rabobank it is one of the big three consumer banks in the Netherlands. Lately, savings banks like ASN and Triodos (who claim to only invest in sustainable projects) have branched out into the payment business and new banks like Knab (owned by insurer Aegon) have also been nipping at their feet. Consumers have stayed loyal so far to to the banks that lured them in during their childhood, until now they’ve found a reason to switch to more modern banks. The joint banks even have a service that should make switching banks as easy as possible.

So far Ro’s plea got shared well over a 1,000 times, with several people reporting they’ve already abandoned ING.

(Illustration: screenshot of Ro’s Facebook post)

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April 16, 2015

Rabobank kills book containing accusations of art theft

Filed under: Art by Branko Collin @ 2:05 pm

rabobank-ben-kraan-architectenThe court of The Hague has rushed to the aid of Dutch bank Rabobank when it censored the book ‘De Verpanding’ (The Pawning) last Friday.

The book, subtitled ‘Art Disappears Where Rabo Appears’, describes the dealings of two ‘art entrepreneurs’ (as Volkskrant calls them) with the Special Cases department of Rabobank.

The authors claim Rabobank stole art works and chased the art collections of art traders, says NRC. Interestingly, the book was published in March with almost no publicity (at least none that I could find), but Rabobank thought it important to sue the publishers nevertheless. The court of The Hague ordered the book to be taken off the market with the goal of protecting the privacy of Rabobank employees who were named in the book. An anonymised reprint may be in the works. The publishers have asked buyers to return the book for a refund.

Meanwhile De Verpanding has been scanned and made widely available through the Internet. In an age where bankers are considered unconvicted criminals by many, such a response should have been foreseen by the bank.

The court of The Hague told 24 Oranges it expects the written verdict to be available from somewhere in the course of next week.

(Photo by Ben Kraan Architecten, some rights reserved)

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July 14, 2013

Companies rank Dutch banks as barely sufficient

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:16 pm

One in three Dutch companies wants to break up with its bank, but only one in six thinks this is possible, Z24 reports.

The business news site commissioned a study by DVJ Insights to find out how over 500 entrepreneurs feel about their banks. Most Dutch businesses manage their finances through either Rabobank, ABN Amro or ING, which control about 88% of the market. Of the other banks, German Deutsche Bank is the biggest, or rather, the least small. The big three received grades of around 5.7 out of 10 from their clients—the lowest passing grade. Deutsche Bank, which according to Z24 wants to get rid of its Dutch customers, received a 4.

The article doesn’t mention if any of the smaller banks got high grades.

A third of entrepreneurs is considering switching banks, but about half of them think it would be difficult. A reason given is that they also have a private account with the same bank.

One of the reasons businesses are unhappy with their bank is that banks are reluctant to provide loans. In the past two years a third of businesses requested a loan from a bank, but in 64% of the cases these loans were denied.

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August 25, 2012

The least safe PIN is 2580

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 1:04 pm

Two students of the Eindhoven University of Technology have discovered that the least safe code for your bank card (PIN) is 2580.

They did this by estimating which hand movements are easiest to observe, then calculating the amount of fits for each series of movements. The PIN 2580 on a grid that consists of the rows 123, 456, 789 and x0x requires a continuous downward motion of the hand, and is the only code possible for that series of movements. A bad actor should be able to guess that PIN 100% of the time.

Eindhoven Dichtbij reports that 292 codes can be guessed in three goes after observing hand movements. This also produces a 100% success rate, assuming the bad actors get three attempts before access is blocked. Codes that are relatively safe require lots of back and forth movements. The code 1959 belongs to the same set of hand movements as 105 other PINs.

I wonder if making fake movements would help against PIN thieves?

The students, Anne Eggels and Aukje Boef, also considered other ways of hacking PINs:

  • Dabbing the keys in salts, and measuring which salts were gone after use of the keypad—especially useful for PINs in which the same key is used more than once.*
  • Camera surveillance.
  • Observing wear and tear of keys—useful in locations where the same PIN is shared my most users, such as nursing home wards.

Aukje Boef has a telling name by the way, as her last name means ‘crook’ in Dutch.

Update: found an article from last year that claims 2580 is the third most used PIN.

*) This is an old trick that I was aware of. To this day paranoid me wipes all keys with his fingers after entering a code.

(Photo by Flickr user Redspotted, some rights reserved. Link: Bright.)

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July 22, 2012

Dutch banks charge top dollar for overdrafts

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 1:57 pm

Financial news site Z24 studied overdraft interest rates of Dutch banks, and came to the conclusion that Dutch banks charge as much as their German counterparts.

Overdraft interest rates are limited by law to 12% plus a variable rate that is currently 3 percentage points. The maximum interest rate for overdrafts currently allowed is therefore 15%.

ING currently charges 14.5%, almost the maximum. Z24 discovered the following rates:

Bank Rate (%)
ING 14.5
ABN Amro 14.1
Rabobank 12.9
ASN Bank* 10.0

When a bank borrows money from the Central European Bank, it only pays an interest rate of 1%.

A German consumer organisation had recently studied overdraft interest rates in its own country and came to the conclusion that with an average rate of 12.1%, German banks overcharged their customers by a lot. Banks defended themselves claiming that there were high costs involved in charging relatively small amounts, and that the chance that customers would not pay back their overdraft is relatively large.

A study by the German government, Süddeutsche Zeiting reported last Thursday, proved that the banks were lying. Overdrafts are a relatively risk-free type of loan for banks, with only 0.3% of the overdrafts leading to payment problems, as compared to 2.5% for other types of loan.

The Dutch financial authority AFM will study the rates that banks charge after January 1, the date on which new banking rules go into effect.

*) ASN Bank is a brand of SNS Bank that originally only offered ethical savings accounts, although recently they have also added current accounts to their services. Although the savings of ASN customers are invested in ethical stock, the profits go to the parent company.

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April 27, 2009

Anatomy of an ATM skimmer

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 8:39 am

Last December, Paul Wiegmans from Alkmaar discovered an ATM skimming device (Dutch) attached to an NS ticket vending machine (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, i.e. Dutch railways). Being a hacker, he pulled the device loose and photographed it extensively before turning it in to the police. Marvel at the diminutive size of these things!

The Nederlandse Bank estimates that skimming at train stations and banks results in ten million euro in damages per year, reports Algemeen Dagblad (Dutch). The NS told the same daily that approximately two skimming accidents occur per day at its train stations. That’s a rather small amount compared to the number of ATM transactions taking place per day there—200,000.

Update: Meanwhile, Salima Douhou and Jan Magnus of the University of Tilburg claim that skimming would become almost impossible if banks incorporated code that would verify the way people type their PIN codes, reports De Telegraaf (Dutch). Apparently, nobody does that quite the same way, making your punch as distinct as your signature. The article unfortunately doesn’t mention what the percentage of false positives is with this method, and calls the method “almost unhackable”, which in this reality means the same as positively hackable.

(Photo: Paul Wiegmans.)

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January 2, 2009

Banks refusing legit sex businesses as clients

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 1:50 pm
Moulin Rouge

When I first talked to a Lebanese-Dutch coffeeshop owner back in, oh, 1997 when I was just visiting the Netherlands, he told me that even though coffeeshops are legal, kids won’t wave to their coffeeshop owner on the street when off shopping with their parents. In other words, they definitely are of a lesser breed, just like sex industry workers. Imagine some guy saying a casual ‘hello’ to his favourite ‘pro’ at the snack bar while grabbing a burger with his mates.

And now in 2009 Dutch banks are refusing to let sex industry businesses open bank accounts, with the excuse that they are responsible for the trafficking of women and money laundering. The VER association, which represents sex businesses, is really pissed at the banks, although oddly enough, if a business has a “neutral sounding name”, it can open a bank account without any problems. Some truth is out there, read the Dutch link below.

Trafficking of women and money laundering, you say? Sure there’s a chance, but it can’t possibly be that bad. And what, the idea of such terrible practices only popped into the banks’ head in 2009? Are they on drugs? Hey banks, didn’t you cause this crisis we’re in?

The world is going mad – stay tuned!


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December 20, 2008

Tour company profits from financial crisis

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:49 pm

Tour company Amsterdam Excursies has decided to profit from the financial crisis by organizing themed guided tours of the financial history of Amsterdam. It’s Crisis Tour starts at the Zeedijk, where the first share in the world was traded in 1606, and ends on the Spuistraat at De Keuken van 1870, the oldest and only still extant soup kitchen of the city. Other crises touched upon during the tour are the collapse of Tulip Mania in 1637, and the end of the Dutch Golden Age.

Via the print edition of NL20. Photo of the VOC HQ (East India Company) by Josh, distributed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

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