Banco Santander, the Spanish bank with a global footprint, believes that leveraging the cloud is a strategy that can take it to unique levels in terms of products and services and customer experience:
Banco Santander, the Madrid-headquartered Spanish multinational bank that operates in the whole of Europe and major parts of the Americas, has a unique thrust on cloud. It says this is to facilitate offering innovative products and services, to improve customer experience and to be among the top banks in the world in terms of quality and convenience. The bank is now in the process of delivering one of the fastest cloud adoption projects in the world targeting total implementation by 2023. In doing so, the bank also wants to be a fully digitally-enabled global bank.
At the end of 2020, Banco Santander had more than a trillion euros in total funds, 148 million customers, of which 22.8 million are loyal and 42.4 million are digital, 11,000 branches and 191,000 employees.
The bank had initiated its digital transformation program around 2 years ago and it is well ahead of its plan as more than 60% of its systems worldwide have already migrated to the cloud, making it a leader among European banks in using cloud in its operations. It has said it has been able to move 200 servers to the cloud every working day over the last 2 years, thus moving on its way to become the best open financial services platform. The bank believes the new system will ensure improvement in processes and high level of innovation, thereby improving processes, enabling quick innovation and offering unprecedented service quality.
UNIQUE CLOUD PLATFORM
The bank says the cloud platform, when it becomes fully operational, will host unique technologies that can deliver customer centric and innovative services and applications with better response times. When its ATM system had moved to the cloud, it was possible to offer almost instant response instead of 10-20 seconds in the past. Likewise, the bank is able to deliver new capabilities to its customers in hours rather than days in the past. The platform will also help the bank to reduce its energy consumption for its IT infrastructure by 70%, contributing to its responsible banking targets.
Santander has set up an autonomous cloud-native company, PagoNxt, a fintech that brings together all of Santander’s payments businesses. It is about to develop a unique and disruptive payment services system for the bank.
PagoNxt has recently announced that it is launching its flagship merchant payments business in Europe under the Getnet brand. Getnet is already operational in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. In Europe, Getnet will serve foreign and domestic merchants of all sizes in some 30 countries, whether or not they are customers of Santander or not, offering them access to multi-channel, multi-method, multi-country payments.
Santander’s prowess in cloud technology has enabled it to provide its 148 million customers across Europe and the Americas with access to vital financial services during the pandemic. It was able to migrate seamlessly to work from home for more than 100,000 employees in just days.
Santander’s cloud platform uses in-house and vendor-provided capabilities, giving its 16,500 developers access to the latest technology to enable them to add the functionality the digital-savvy customers seek.
Santander leverages its scale to invest in digital and technology and the main target is improving customer experience and revenue growth. As part of the digital plan, the bank proposes to invest over €20 billion in technology over the next 4 years. It also hopes that the digital transformation will enable it to remove €1.2 billion in annual costs from its balance sheet, thanks to possible efficiencies brought about by new technology.
USING BIG DATA
The bank’s UK unit, Santander UK, has a unique position in the group as far as use of data is concerned. The bank started a project in 2014 to make use of big data to generate value for customers. In about 9 months, it has created a highly available real-time customer-facing application for customer analytics. The app uses real-time transaction data to help the customers, for example, to understand their card spend across time periods, different categories (travel, food & drink, supermarkets, cash, etc), and by brand/retailer. The big data platform is also used to power all the new digital applications – customer facing, or on the backend.
Santander has concluded a 5-year $700 million agreement with IBM in 2019, which ensures that its services and applications will have the backing of IBM’s most innovative and disruptive technologies. This includes big data, blockchain and AI technology such as IBM Watson, which Santander will use to incorporate AI capabilities into its operations to improve customer experience, enhance branch advisors’ expertise, and increase employee productivity.