Santander Innovation Strategies

of four

Santander - Innovation Steps

We have provided a list of different innovations that Santander has pursued throughout its businesses worldwide. Further details about each innovative step are documented below.

Santander InnoVentures

  • Santander launched a $100 million fund in July 2014 to address disruptive innovation in the fintech space.
  • The company partners with small companies and startups to support digital revolution in their business to serve their customers better.
  • InnoVentures serves the company's innovation agenda by investing in fintech companies and helping them grow from the seed stage.
  • Although the fund was launched in 2014, the company dedicated another $100 million to the fund two years later, which will be used to invest in fintech startups.


  • Santander invested £350 million ($453 million) in a UK payments platform named Ebury recently this year.
  • Through this partnership, Santander aims to "deliver faster and more efficient products and services for SMEs, previously only accessible to larger corporates."

Investment in Digital Technology

  • During the first half of 2019, Santander announced plans to invest €20 billion in digital technology over the course of the next 4 years.
  • Through this investment, the bank plans to elevate its 'speedboat' businesses, "which will allow it to evaluate new solutions and seek new customers in the open market."
  • The bank will also "transition its IT infrastructure towards a multi-cloud environment while using agile methodologies to accelerate its overall business and technology transformation."

Technology Hub

  • Santander built a $200 million technology hub in the UK towards the end of 2018.
  • The technology hub is built in the English town of Milton Keynes. Nathan Bostock, Chief Executive of Santander UK, said on the launch of the hub, "We want a workplace which truly reflects our culture and our vision for the future, which is based on innovation and harnessing new technology to make banking simpler and more personal for our customers."


Santander X

  • Santander X is a platform that brings together all programs that support university entrepreneurs for over 20 years through Santander Universities. The aim behind the development of the platform is to provide a common place to meet for entrepreneurs.
  • Santander X brings universities and entrepreneurs together "to share knowledge, experience, and best practices. So far, more than 60 universities have signed up for the project and many more are expected."
  • The platform was introduced in 2017.


  • In 2017, Santander introduced the first fully digital bank in Spain by the name of Openbank.
  • The commercial activity of Openbank is based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. This enables "greater knowledge of customers, better analysis of risks and a more personalized selection of products and services offered via a completely revamped website and mobile app."

SMART RED Branches

  • Santander has made its branches richer in terms of digital technology and provided innovative solutions to customers by eliminating architectural barriers. This was a recent initiative during the last fiscal year.

One Pay FX

Other Digital Solutions

The company also launched a number of other digital solutions in a number of countries in 2018.
  • The company also launched GPI Swift in Argentina, which is a certification program for international payments. It also expedites payments and allows tracking as well.
  • SuperNet, SuperMovil, and Super Wallet were launched in Portugal to improve mobile and online banking services to customers.
  • Chatbot Customer Service was also launched in Chile that uses artificial intelligence "to understand and solve customer needs in real time."

SME Solutions

In an attempt to fuel the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), Santander launched a number of solutions.
  • In 2018, Santander launched, a platform that simplifies the interface and offers companies an easier way to embrace new business opportunities by leveraging the innovation of 'smart contracts'.
  • In October 2018, Santander launched the 1I2I3 Business current account for SMEs in the UK, which seeks to disrupt the business banking market. 3 trade corridors were also established during the year to further develop the international proposition.
  • A new business model was also launched for SMEs in Mexico called ROF PyME, which assists in the growth of SMEs.

Santander Sostenible

  • Santander Sostenible is an innovation in Santander Asset Management in Spain. "The investment process aims to identify those issuers that are best prepared to face the challenges of the future, and does so by applying an analysis of four sustainability axes: financial, environmental, social and corporate governance."
  • Santander Sostenible, launched in 2018, is made up of three funds including Santander Sostenible 1, Santander Sostenible 2, and Santander Sostenible Acciones.

Santander Bank Polska S.A.

  • A transformation project is underway at Santander Bank Polska S.A. The aim of the project is to expedite the provision of innovative solutions and the analysis of technology needs for the customers.
  • Multichannel, individual customer, risk, and consumer engineering are four tribes that were established towards the end of September 2018.

Automotive Industry

  • In 2018, Santander has launched certain innovative tools in the automotive industry as well, e.g. the implementation of the Cockpit tool in Webmotors, which is an innovative platform that accommodates the resale process of vehicles.
  • Another automotive solution named Autopago was launched that offers a more secure sale and purchase solution for individuals.
  • In Brazil, Santander Auto was launched, which is a fully digital insurer.
  • Santander claims to be the leading bank in auto finance with a 23.7% share of the market.

Local Innovative Solutions

  • Santander has launched multiple innovative solutions in multiple countries across the globe in 2018.
  • In Mexico, the bank boosted innovation across multichannel and digital channels.
  • Select Me was also launched in Mexico, "which seeks to support women in their day-to-day tasks and in their professional life."
  • In Argentina, a new online banking solution was launched, "representing a renewal towards a more digital innovation experience and closer to customers, which was well accepted, while increasing the functionalities of mobile banking."
  • The bank has also innovated in the way they interact with customers, e.g. by transforming traditional branches into new collaborative spaces while focusing on digital capacity and customer experience. Examples include "the new Work Café branches (Chile, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and Argentina), the SMART branches (Spain, the UK) and Santander Ágil in Mexico."

Santander Way App

  • Santander Way, launched in 2017, is an app that aims to make credit card transactions easier. The app was well-received and has accrued high ratings on both the Apple Store and Google Play Store.

Santander Pass

  • Santander Pass was launched in the last quarter of 2017. It enables contactless payments through the use of NFC (Near Field Communication) technology in the form of a bracelet and a sticker.

Research Strategy

Santander is a global bank and its innovative solutions are not hidden from the world. We researched through the Santander website, including local websites, as well as the annual reports to gather insights about the company. We also searched through credible news and media outlets to find more details about a given event. We have compiled a comprehensive outlook of the innovations that Santander has pursued during the last couple of years.
of four

Santander - Innovation Strategy and Goals

Santander is one of the companies that seeks to keep focused on innovation through digital transformation. An outline of their goals and strategy in terms of innovation is provided below.

Innovation Goals and Strategy


  • The company invests in startups through its fund, InnoVentures, which aims to address disruptive innovation in financial technology. Santander aims to not be a passive investor; their goal is to bring value to their partners by developing a strong financial case and a clear path to growth.
  • The company doubled its initial investment in Innoventures by adding another $100 million just 2 years later.

New and Better Ways

  • They aim to be at the forefront of the financial industry by continuously evolving and finding new and better ways of serving their clients.

Digital Transformation

  • The company seeks to be at the forefront of innovation in the fintech sector because they understand that innovation is the key to growth. As a result, it has a core focus on digital transformation.

Santander Technology

  • Santander Technology is the arm of Santander Group that is working on bringing about innovations for their client's banking experience, such as digital applications and cloud solutions.

Boosting Innovation by Networking

  • Santander aims to attract third parties as well along with their current and prospective users, so that their able to build a network and boost innovation.

Being Aware

  • Their team is capable of keeping up with the rapidly changing market-place so that they provide their clients the best business solutions.
  • Their digital acquisition and optimization team works on making sure that the prospective clients are aware of all the services and benefits as well as innovation that Santander can bring them by using their digital assets and strategic partner companies.

Leading Innovation

  • Santander leads in "loans, customer deposits and online banking. WorkCafé, Santander Life and Digital Onboarding have helped [them] become leaders in innovation and digital banking in Chile. [Their] RoTE has reached 18%."

Transforming Existing Branches

  • The bank is "transforming [its] core banks while launching innovative ventures to address challenges emerging from the new digital era."

Consumer Protection

  • They make sure that their innovation does not hurt consumer privacy and ensure that their innovation is safe.

Customer-Centric Innovation

  • Their strategy is to develop innovation while remaining focused on goals that are aligned with the interests of customers around the globe.

Innovation Criteria

  • The bank innovates such that it integrates the "ESG criteria along three main lines: sustainable infrastructures, socially responsible investment and climate finance.


  • The company has a couple of board committees that help them in working towards their innovation goals including the innovation and technology committee and the advisory committee.

Research Strategy

We have leveraged the company websites and annual reports to outline the goals and strategies associated with innovation and provided a holistic picture of their direction.
of four

Santander - Innovation Achievements and Failures

Although there is a large list of achievements that Santander boasts across its digital presence, it's hard to find innovation-related failures. The account of achievements and failures relating to innovation at Santander have been outlined below.


Digital Banking in Chile

  • Santander claims to be the leader in customer deposits, online banking, and loans in Chile through initiatives like Santander Life, Digital Onboarding, and WorkCafé. The banks RoTE has approached 18%.

2017 Awards

  • Santander was awarded multiple awards by The Banker including 'Global Bank of the Year', 'Bank of the Year in Latin America', and 'Bank of the Year in Brazil, Spain, Chile and Portugal'.
  • Euromoney also awarded multiple awards including 'Best Bank in the World for SMEs ', 'Best Bank in Latin America ', and 'Best Bank in Brazil, Poland, Chile, Puerto Rico and Portugal'.
  • Santander was also awarded to be the most innovative digital bank in Latin America by Euromoney in 2017.

2018 Awards

  • The bank also won the ‘Most innovative use of blockchain in the financial sector 2018’ award in the Blockchain Expo Europe.
  • The bank also earned multiple awards in Poland by the implementation of agile methodology in the retail banking sector.
  • The bank was ranked 2nd in retail customer satisfaction through the launch of the innovative 1I2I3 Business current account. The results were highly satisfied customers and increased profitability.

Customer Acquisition Through Innovation

  • The company gained employees in Latin America at double-digit rates thanks to its commitment to innovation and commercial transformation.
  • In 2017, Santander progressed with its mobile app and was able to increase sales by offering innovative products across digital channels. Digital channels, as a result, accounted for 28% of the total sales generated by the bank's products.
  • The bank was able to increase its customer base by 16% in Latin America to a total of over 3 million digital customers. This was made possible through the delivery of streamlining processes, commercial actions, and innovation measures.

Leading Bank in Automotive

  • Santander is the leading bank in auto finance thanks to its innovative offerings, e.g. the Cockpit tool for the resale of vehicles.
  • In Brazil, Santander launched a fully digital insurer named Santander Auto. This helped them in achieving revenue growths of up to 32%.


Investment in Digital Transformation

  • Santander recently announced plans to invest €20 billion over the course of 4 years to transform its services digitally.
  • The CEO of Backbase, Jouk Pleiter, has challenged Santander's investment stating that he could build a bank in an hour. Backbase is a fintech software provider, whose CEO stated this talking at Backbase Connect 2019 conference held in Amsterdam.
  • The CEO said, "I really do not know how you spend that much money on digital transformation."
  • The bank dedicated the investment to its move to a multi-cloud environment and the integration of machine learning.
  • Pleiter thinks that apps are the future of fintech and banks will eventually have to go. Eventually, "the real battleground" will be the app landscape.

Technology Failure

  • Although Santander has been investing billions in its digital transformation initiatives and has been quite successful at many avenues in terms of its services and products, there have been instances where the bank failed to provide only the most basic facilities to its customers.
  • Such was the case when Santander failed to deliver text alerts to its customers in order to warn them before they were charged for going into an overdraft.
  • As a result, customers had to face overdraft fees since the bank broke the rule and did not send text alerts beforehand.
  • Santander has agreed to pay refunds to affected customers, however, the details of the transactions that are to entail have not yet been disclosed.

Research Strategy

We have made use of Santander's annual reports and highlights pages from the last 2 years to curate a list of its achievements and failures specific to innovation. While the list of achievements is long, owing to the description of its achievements by the company itself, failures were hard to find. Failures have primarily been put down by conducting research across news and media articles.
of four

Santander - Management Changes and Partnerships

Santander has entered into many partnerships. Some partnerships from the past few years have been documented below.



  • Santander partnered with IBM to finalize a $700 million global technology deal in early 2019.
  • Under the 5-year agreement, IBM will provide services to Santander in an attempt to transform their business "as it seeks to move to a more open, flexible and modern IT environment that delivers better and more innovative digital services. "
  • Santander will benefit from IBM's expertise in blockchain, AI, and big data. An example is the use of IBM Watson towards the improvement of customer experience, enhancement of expertise for branch advisors, and increasing employee productivity.
  • Additionally, "the basis of the bank's IT infrastructure will transition to a hybrid, multicloud environment. To implement its hybrid cloud strategy, the bank created its own Cloud Competence Centre, which IBM is collaborating with. Santander is also using IBM DevOps and IBM API Connect to help develop, iterate and launch applications and services more rapidly. "


  • Santander has also partnered with Microsoft to acquire cloud technologies that will help in Santander's digital transformation.
  • Santander named Microsoft "a preferred strategic cloud provider" that will enable the bank to implement digital transformation.
  • The partnership is a multi-year partnership on a global scale. Santander aims to achieve its digital innovation goals and improve operational efficiency through the use of cloud solutions such as Data, Cognitive Services, Artificial Intelligence, and Microsoft Azure.



  • Santander partnered with a startup in San Francisco called Tradeshift in 2017.
  • As per the agreement, Santander will provide services to 1.5 million businesses that are on the portfolio of Tradeshift.
  • Tradeshift offers a cloud platform to large companies that enables them to track the execution of contracts and orders.


Management Changes

Research Strategy

In order to research partnerships of Santander in terms of innovation, we resorted to press releases by the company and credible news and media articles. Changes in management have primarily been sourced from the annual reports.