Santander Group chair Ana Botin has called for a level playing field between banks and the raft of new tech firms looking to muscle their way into the financial services industry.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Botin - who took charge of the giant Spanish bank last year - admitted that Apple Pay is "not a good business for Santander" but had to be embraced in the interest of customers, who "love it".
For collaboration to work, she stressed "the rules have to be the same for banks and new entrants," adding: "So sharing information: if I share my customer information, the new entrants should share their customer information because otherwise it’s very difficult to run a business, so I think that’s the key thing."
Botin said that while she believed that regulators understand this, there is also an onus on new entrants to prove ready to work with banks. "So I believe in collaboration with the new entrants but not with all of them because some of them are actually not ready to do that but I think we are trying very hard to work with the new entrants and to do our own disruptive strategies."
Botin noted Santander's referral partnership with P2P lender Funding Circle as a positive development, while the bank also has a fintech venture fund through which it invests in promising startups.
Yet, with digital-based rivals on the march, Botin also repeated a claim she made earlier this year - that the old-fashioned branch could prove a key advantage for banks.
Although hailing the fact that digital has enabled Santander to have a 47% cost-income ratio, she stressed that "we have 13,000 branches and we believe very much in that personal contact. So that is what I call the ‘BAU’ - the ‘business as usual’ - and our goal there is very simple: we want you to be able to see, manage and buy all of our products through all our channels."