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Corporate banking: The future is digital

December 2021

Digitalisation in corporate banking is in full swing, a change that has been hugely accelerated by the challenges of the pandemic. Now more than ever, banks are innovating heavily to create more effective and efficient offerings. At Santander CIB, we are in the fortunate position in this. Digitalisation has been a cornerstone of our policies for the future for several years, with our wealth of experience and cutting edge solutions enabling us to meet demand, and introduce new solutions to our clients in a rapid, dynamic way. 

Efficiency, security and digital currencies are some of the key trends that are driving digitalisation in corporate banking, and Santander CIB is committed to leading the market response to these trends. We have teams dedicated to identifying trends and future sources of demand, and to producing innovative, market-leading digital solutions that are tailored to the demands of our customers and clients such as our AI advisory engine designed to support investment professionals, Kairos, or the Santander Cash Nexus which provides integrated transaction services for corporate treasurers. 

Efficiency & Speed

Driving much of the global push towards digitalisation is the desire for efficiency. Corporate customers are looking for solutions that fit into their existing processes and systems easily, while still driving efficiency. Onboarding processes for new customers will need to be streamlined, and choice of service provider may come down to ease of use. As corporates look for real-time monitoring of cash flows, optimisation of working capital and the flexibility to respond to rapid changes in the macro landscape, smart and efficient solutions will be vital. 

One example of this is Echeq, a new digital payment system Santander CIB has implemented in Argentina to simplify the issuance, endorsement, deposit and circulation of digital payments. In 2020, the Central Bank defined that all customers should be able to operate digital payments through online platforms.


Linked to this is a second trend, one of security. With the volume of digital transactions increasing there is more scope for security breaches, as well as regulatory challenges. This must be balanced against the desire for convenience, and banks must be intelligent about walking this line, and find a way to combine these in a single-source solution. 

Financial technologies such as facial recognition, automation and digital checks such as Santander’s Echeq are making it easier to share and authenticate information securely. Many banks already use AI or Machine Learning to prevent and detect security issues. 

Digital Currencies & Crypto 

A recent BIS survey suggests that 60% of central banks are considering Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), and 14% are actively conducting pilot tests. Governments are developing payments infrastructure as part of industrial policy to control money flows and own digital and data platforms, and are beginning to strongly consider cryptocurrency as part of these strategies. In a recent Santander CIB Talks session, our head of Digital Assets John Whelan spoke about how digital securities, digital cash and crypto-currencies will form a meaningful part of the financial industry in the future, and the importance of getting there in a risk-minimised and controlled manner. Notably, banks must think laterally about which asset classes can be digitised, and should listen to their clients’ ideas in this space to meet their demand. 

Financial service providers must therefore be ready to work with digital currencies and offer crypto-led services, as well as ensuring they have the infrastructure to manage them efficiently and securely. Solutions like blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) can offer new opportunities, from financial transactions to automated contractual agreements. This year, Santander worked on the issuance of the EIB’s first public blockchain digital bond, worth €100m, another example of how evolving technologies are infiltrating corporate banking.

You can read more about Santander’s pioneering work in the implementation of blockchain in its services to improve customer service and efficiency, here.