Spain’s Santander Group, with its flagship Banco Santander, S.A. in Spain, is one of the most respected banking groups in the world with more than 125 million customers in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. It’s also had a busy year.
Also aimed at millennials who may distrust financial institutions, the Spanish bank’s foray into branded entertainment also won a Grand Prix Entertainment Cannes Lions 2017 award in June.
The 17-minute sci-fi thriller short film (Beyond Money) ran in cinemas in Spain. Sparking a debate about the real value of money, the film questions whether money is more important than experiences by depicting a woman who sells her own memories.
Its global fintech venture capital arm, Santander InnoVentures, just made its 15th investment by taking a stake in the San Francisco-based PayJoy.
Manuel Silva, Head of Investments, Santander InnoVentures said: “Investing in PayJoy shows Santander InnoVentures’s constant search for great teams pushing the boundaries of fintech. It also shows our increasing interest in models that are relevant to emerging markets and the underbanked.”
On the sustainability front, Santander has maintained its leading position in the DJSI World and DJSI Europe indexes since 2000 and still ranks as one of the best financial institutions in the world—and first in Spain—for its sustainability management.
In North America, Santander Bank, N.A. is one of the largest retail and commercial banks, with more than $83 billion in assets. With its US headquarters in Boston, the Bank has 9,500 employees, 675 branches, 2,100 ATMs and 2.1 million customers principally located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
Always advancing its customer experience, Santander N.A. redesigned its consumer app, providing new functionality for retail customers, including a fingerprint log-in option for customers with Touch ID technology on their mobile devices.
The past year also saw an award-winning Business Banking mobile app for small business customers; the launch of Apple Pay, and a 2016 Model Bank Award from global financial services research firm Celent for its new deposit account opening software in the Digital Banking Transformation category.
As more consumers are using mobile apps and online tools for banking, Santander has firmed up a digital transformation strategy. For example, in May, Santander launched ‘Walk Out Working’ (WOW), a customer-centric initiative enabling new customers to set up their digital banking tools on-site so their mobile and online accounts are fully activated and accessible.
“Our ‘Walk Out Working’ initiative ensures that we’re making a great first impression on our customers and empowering them with instant access to their digital accounts on day one,” said Michael Cleary, Santander’s US Head of Consumer and Business Banking.
“Expanding our digital platform and enhancing our technology is the key to transforming the customer experience. By delivering a satisfying, transparent and consistent account opening experience, we are fulfilling our promise to make banking at Santander as effortless as possible so customers can bank with us anytime, anywhere.”
Also investing in blockchain, Santander co-founded an alliance with JPMorgan and Bank of New York Mellon called Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) to build and promote the use of distributed ledgers at the start of 2017.
Julio Faura, head of Blockchain R&D at Santander, told Forbes that a digital identity is a “must have building block needed to support legally binding transactions in any kind of application. Blockchain technology, and Ethereum in particular, has demonstrated its ability to be used securely at scale in public networks, and its potential to be used in private, enterprise-grade settings, is phenomenal.”
The Madrid-based bank sold 1.5 billion shares to shore up its balance sheet after taking over Banco Popular for one euro in a deal brokered by European regulators. Before the acquisition, Santander Chairman Ana Botin forecast improved performance at the bank, which reported a Q2 profit of about 1.73 billion euros compared with 1.28 billion euros a year earlier.
“Santander’s estimates for first-half results are pretty positive on the face of it,” said Arjun Bowry, London-based analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “However, the main talking point on the second-quarter call will inevitably be the disposal of Popular’s real estate assets.”
As the Spanish economy recovers from unemployment and recession, Imanol Urquizu, fund manager at Rho Investments Sil SA told Bloomberg, “The current macro situation is helping Santander accomplish great results for this year. The bank has a great history of incorporating new banks into their brand and dealing with tough situations.”