Santander selects Microsoft products for global payments overhaul

Santander selects Microsoft products for global payments overhaul

Spain's Grupo Santander is to use Microsoft technology to upgrade and consolidate payments systems across its international business operations.

Santander will use a number of Microsoft products to consolidate individual payments systems from multiple mainframes into one homogeneous IT infrastructure.

The consolidated payments system will utilise Microsoft BizTalk Server 2006, as well as Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft BizTalk Accelerator for Swift and Web services to speed up payment processing and reduce operating costs.

The initial phase of the project will see the group's larger banks - Banco Santander, Abbey National and Banesto - implementing the technology first, followed by the smaller banks and building societies.

Sheida Hadji-Ashrafi, worldwide industry manager payments at Microsoft, says Grupo Santander has been looking for a more flexible, open architecture to respond faster to new EU financial regulations. The Microsoft-based core payments system - which is due to go live next year - will enable connectivity and transactions processing for the Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa), connecting to the Euro Banking Association (EBA) and UK Faster Payments.

Grupo Santander is currently developing different projects that will culminate in a common payment infrastructure for the whole group. These include STP Manager, a system designed to handle all financial message interchanges between the group and external institutions; Faster payments, a UK-wide initiative that will speed up credit transfers between accounts, enabling Internet and telephone banking users to benefit from near-real-time payment processing; and SMS text messages banking.

The new infrastructure will also enable the group to receive payments information in a variety of formats by consolidating interfaces with the various automated clearing houses (ACH) and corporates it is connected to.

Maite Agujetas, chief architect, Grupo Santander, says the Microsoft technology was selected after the bank's internal architecture team ran a proof of concept at the company's headquarters in Redmond that proved the system would be able to handle 62 million messages per day, with processing rates of 1156 messages per second.

"The speed of the system and the potential cost savings that could be achieved across the group as a result helped us come to our decision. In addition, we believe that this project will help us easily adapt our current systems with minimal disruption to our customers," says Agujetas.

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