Santander's Botin calls for level playing field with new tech rivals

Santander's Botin calls for level playing field with new tech rivals

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."

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 25 September, 2015, 09:30Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I'm not sure i get the last paragragh. I just took out a Santander credit card...screen sharing didnt work, telephone application took 51 minutes and then they posted paper agreements then I waited another 7 days for the actual card. Not a digital experience - having said that, the product is very good so applicants will put up with old, slow processes.

My point is that the new fintech challengers wont but able to offer the same products as the established banks or even the well backed challenger banks. So applicants can take their chance with a new start up and get a great digital experience or go with the old and get a great product, but slow and poor servicing.

For my money, Id suggest the banks invest in digital themselves - makes more commercial sense and would protect and grow their own market share.



Nick Ogden
Nick Ogden - - London 28 September, 2015, 12:00Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Post the 2007/8 financial crisis the Australian Financial Services Regulator adopted a process called SARAH to deal with the meltdown.The words behind the acronym are Shock, Anger, Revenge, Acceptance and Help. Perhaps, ahead of others, Santander has finally reached the acceptance piece, and help is at hand, possibly via their incubator.