Ana Botin leads Santander’s transformation into a digital bank

By Oliver Smith 23 March 2016
Ana Botin is the executive chair of Santander, one of the world's largest banks.

With digital challenges snapping at their toes, Santander has pulled together a tech-savvy committee of experts to guide it through these tricky times.

Just days after a study called on the world’s biggest banks to boost their digital know-how by setting up independent tech committees of external advisors, Santander has gone and done exactly that.

Accenture found that just 6% of board members at leading banks have any kind of professional technology background, the solution? Retrain existing members and bring in external advisors to help them make decisions.

Santander this morning did exactly that, led by CEO Ana Botin (pictured) pulling together seven experts from the worlds of tech and finance, including the former president of data centre giant Oracle and former US treasury secretary.

The move undoubtedly comes in response to the challenges being faced by traditional banks from new players in the market. Whether it’s crowdfunding platforms eroding bank’s strangleholds on lending out money or upstart digital banks aiming to dominate the future of our current accounts.

“All of its members share the experience of managing the digital transformation of their organisations,” said Botin.

“The true power of technology to transform lives emerges when it is adopted and distributed by companies like ours. The way we internalise and adapt to new technology in the coming years will determine our success.”

Biometric banking

The move comes a day after Santander started strutting its tech expertise by updating its SmartBank app with voice recognition to let people ask actual questions about their bank statements.

So “how much money did I spend this month?” would result in the answer “You have spent X since February”.

Next Santander says it will be letting people “fully service” their accounts, with voice commands to make payments, report lost cards and answer an even larger range of questions about their spending.

Santander isn’t the only bank chasing biometric banking, last month HSBC revealed it would soon be adding voice recognition to let its customers log on to mobile app.