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Innovation

Cybersecurity's key role in investment banking

November 2022

Over the last few decades, cybersecurity has evolved into one of the most critical functions globally, on both a corporate and governmental level. That’s no different at Santander CIB, where the cybersecurity team is headed up by David Sheridan, who has been at Santander for over 22 years and has overseen a huge amount of change. We sat down with him to explore how the world of cybersecurity has changed during his tenure, and what his team’s role at the bank is.

David explains that the function of cybersecurity at an industry level has evolved significantly  “Information security had largely been an IT function since the beginning of the interconnected age”, he says, “covering things like network security and systems access, it was very much a technical discipline within IT. Now, as people become more aware of the risks to businesses and clients from cyber threats and those threats become more sophisticated, it’s now treated as a discipline of its own”. 

Cybersecurity has come a long way in recent years. When the technology and platforms most companies use were originally built, they never imagined that the internet age meant the security of a product could change over time. In practical terms, that means that cybersecurity teams work with systems, which naturally overtime have vulnerabilities that have to be addressed. 

Our cybersecurity team plays a critical role within the bank, and their extensive remit covers both internal systems, and also working with suppliers and clients in an advisory capacity. 

Within the bank, the focus is on protecting, detecting and managing  before they arise. Ultimately, David explains, “this is a broader resilience piece. A lot of my team’s time is spent ascertaining whether we have the right controls to protect against  ransomware, testing systems for security or working with staff to understand the behaviors needed to protect against cyber threats. 

The work we do on staff training and awareness, and in ‘security by design’ in any new product or system we implement, is ultimately designed to defend what David describes as “the hyperconnected bank of the future” and implementing controls that ensure people can only access the information they need to do their jobs. 

Another area of focus is on supply chain risk. We therefore work closely with all our suppliers to ensure they are equally well protected and that they meet our security standards. “This all feeds into our client relationships as well”, David explained. As a business, it’s essential that we are secure right the way through our supply chain, to make sure in turn that our clients data and assets are protected. Ultimately, the job of the cyber security team when it comes to clients and customers is to generate trust between us, and value for them from our services. 
 

Nexus Global Collections: Connectivity and efficiency

July 2022

Digitalisation in corporate banking is providing efficiency, speed, and centralization, enabling clients to manage their processes from anywhere around the globe.
 
As mentioned in a previous blog on how tech is driving change in Cash Management solutions, corporations in 2021 are looking for ways to use new technologies to improve efficiency and streamline their transactions and treasury processes. At Santander CIB we want to be the best partner to our clients offering the most innovative digital solutions.

In this blog we explore Santander Nexus Global Collections, a digital solution for collections management that improves the receivable life cycle and customer payments management.

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Stablecoins and CBDCs: The future of money in a digital world

May 2022

A stablecoin is a class of digital currency that attempts to offer price stability while offering an additional level of security from being backed by a reserve asset such as a pre-existing currency (e.g. USD) or gold, for example. Designed to dramatically reduce volatility in relation to cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin or Ethereum), this results in a form of digital money that is better suited to modern business and day-to-day transactions and transfers than other cryptocurrencies. 

Indeed, such a combination of traditional-asset stability with digital-asset flexibility has proven to be increasingly popular from investors to businesses alike. The Central Bank digital currency (CBDC) was introduced as the traditional market's answer to the stablecoin phenomena from the cryptocurrency world. A CBDC has credit quality of the central bank which can achieve settlement finality for financial contracts. This can also be achieved by other peer-to-peer services in the marketplace, like Fnality, a new wholesale digital cash payments system to settle tokenized transactions with settlement finality. This particular example has the added benefit of its infrastructure being on DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) enabling faster implementation and meaning that it can interoperate with other DLT systems. It is anticipated that many digital currencies are likely to be built on DLT systems, with blockchains being the most well-known example of this type of technology. However, there are other technology platforms that central banks can consider. 

The use of hybrid information architecture is also being developed on a global scale from Europe to China. As such, digital currency projects have accelerated in the last four years and will only continue to build momentum. Regulators from the traditional banking sector still have a role to play however and are continuing to explore the different questions related to the digital asset processes. The control of Central Banks over CBDC’s is not dissimilar to physical currency, but there are also risks.  Decentralized finance could be a big change for governments, therefore central banks and governments need to work together to make regulated digital finance work globally. 

John Whelan, MD Digital Assets, Santander CIB said: ‘At Santander CIB we are seeing an increasing interest from our clients in the benefits of stablecoins, blockchain and other digital assets and we are proud to be at the forefront of this innovation in capital markets. We are closely watching both the development of CBDCs and privately issued stablecoins and we expect that they will coexist. We believe that Central Banks and other reguators should work together to ensure that prudent regulations are implemented in order to minimize risk and maximize the opportunities”.  

It is becoming increasingly clear that there is the potential for CBDC’s and stablecoins to enhance both wholesale and retail banking. With greater efficiency, increased automation coupled with a variety of DLT and blockchain platforms with unique capabilities, big changes in the plumbinging of the financial markets are anticipated.

In digital securities markets, CBDCs have been demonstrated to work well, and have the advantages of bringing a reduction in settlement risk and the ability to bring atomic settlement to the delivery-vs-payment (DvP) process. This is a good model for the wholesale market that needs to operate on the basis of Central Bank money with no credit risk on the CBDC itself. Through increased automation using DLT, a CBDC system can also avoid settlement risk and trading risks and has the potential to dramatically change Euromarkets. 

For retail banking the frequency of transactions is much higher and regulators need to consider any risks around the stability of the economy, including limits on how much digital currency can be issued to any single individual and whether the two-step currency-distribution model (Central Bank to commercial bank to retail user) should be maintained.

Both the wholesale and retail banking sectors have unique needs and as such it is more likely that Central Banks will take a technology agnostic, public/private partnership approach to making the first digital cash available.

There is still more to expect in the development of CBDCs, Stablecoins and blockchain, but the uptake is positive. In April 2021, Santander CIB collaborated with the EIB in launching the first EUR 100m 2-year bond, placed with key market investors, in the market’s first multi‑dealer led, primary issuance of digitally native security tokens using public blockchain technology (i.e. the public Ethereum network). Like the EIB’s role in green bonds or risk free rates, this new digital bond issuance aims to pave the way for other market players to turn to blockchain technology for the issuance of financial securities. Meanwhile in El Salvador, Bitcoin has been recognised as legal tender in a bid to tackle the economic problem for citizens sending money home from abroad, which accounts for up to a fifth of the country’s GDP (more here). To make these transfers, people must pay high transaction costs, meanwhile 70 percent of people are unbanked. At Santander CIB, our blockchain and digital assets experts are exploring the uses of the latest technology, its implementation and regulation, and will continue to push to be at the forefront of capital markets innovation.
 

How Tech is Driving Change in Cash Management Solutions

February 2022

Corporations in 2021 are looking for ways to use new technologies to improve efficiency and streamline their transactions and treasury processes. Digitalisation will play a huge part in this, as companies refresh their focus on cash management and capital flows as a response to global economic pressures, and search for bespoke 360 solutions. 

In this blog we explore some of the factors that are a part of this, and look at the solutions that Santander Corporate & Investment Banking can offer in this space. 

At Santander CIB, we recognize digitalisation as a major driver of change in the world of finance right now. With hybrid and remote working now the standard, many corporations are searching for a modern accounting solution that unifies all of a company’s systems and data into a single source and offers automation of repetitive and time intensive tasks. When it comes to managing the regulatory and documentation requirements for businesses operating internationally and in multiple markets, a centralised model that can function on a macro-level is truly valuable to treasurers.  

Additionally, the provision and integration of real-time information and analysis is now expected to form a part of these solutions. With the lasting impact of the pandemic and global financial uncertainty set to remain for some time to come, intelligent automation will be central to forecasting and cash flow optimisation.

Underpinning these needs are the questions of cost, and security. Traditionally high costs associated with activities such as processing paper cheques are being superseded by technologies such as Echeqs, while digital innovations such as electronic signature and blockchain are safeguarding against security risks in a relatively cost effective manner. These technologies are seen as cutting edge now, but we can expect them to become standard services in the coming years. 

At Santander Corporate & Investment Banking, we pride ourselves on our market-leading cash management services, such as our enhanced Santander Cash Nexus Transactional HUB. This comprehensive and centralised, end-to-end solution has been designed to optimise liquidity and cash flows through a smart, centralised channel that can handle all of your needs across a range of countries. 

José Luis Calderón, Head of Global Transaction Banking, Santander, commented, “Recognizing that changing the payment platform is changing the heart of the bank, Cash Nexus has allowed Santander to bring the heartbeat and finish line of the future into today’s reality”.

Our enhanced Cash Nexus has been shown to reduce average client implementation time, transaction processing and connectivity by about 70% and increase transaction performance capabilities by an impressive 75%. Our extensive, worldwide retail banking network drives the Cash Nexus platform’s local capabilities across the world and is self-sufficient in implementing new countries in 65% less time. 

Laureano Rubín de Celis, Global Head of Santander Cash Nexus Hub, remarked, “Our customers needed a consistent global platform isolated from so many different region regimes. We are committed to transforming Cash Nexus into a state-of-the-art backbone which gives us the flexibility to face the challenges that lay ahead”.

Santander’s track record of delivering customised technology solutions to streamline corporate operations means that implementation is flexible and designed to integrate with a range of systems, providing a single global entry point while complying with international standards and offering best in class security technologies. 

Carlos Denche, Global IT Head for Global Transaction Banking, Santander, added, “Comparing the capabilities of new system with old one, the new system is much more flexible for operations to configure and operate, providing greater opportunity to run services in a way that accommodates how payments are evolving, readiness of further API connectivity, development of new payment tools, and more aggressive KPIs.”

The whole system is built to optimise your company's cost savings, return and cash flows and offer you complete control over your business worldwide so that you can focus on maximising your earnings.

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.

Security

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.
 

Discover Kairos, the power of AI at the service of Santander CIB clients

November 2021

The system draws on our colleagues' professional experience and personal expertise and combines it with Santander’s own internal client data, as well as the wealth of data available around the world to build recommendations for our investors. ‘Kairos’ is able to show how a business is impacted by micro and macro economic indicators and events, and what it’s supply chain and business ecosystem looks like. It is also able to provide a global map of multinationals and their subsidiaries, which are Santander clients, show which products or services have already been positioned and where the potential sales opportunities are.

With this technology, we will be even better placed to anticipate and meet the needs of our clients. We can predict patterns, risks and opportunities, and keep up with rapidly changing events globally, which could affect our investment decisions. By having all this information at our fingertips, we can improve our performance with a better understanding of the market, the client and the services they need.

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At Santander Corporate and Investment Banking we are leveraging technology in many ways, both to improve our internal ways of working and to better service our clients. A core element of this is data intelligence, which can help us to make faster and smarter decisions that recognize commercial opportunities, spot risks and make predictions. In combination with our professional expertise, technology gives us the competitive edge we need to get the best results for our clients, by matching them with the right products at the right time.

One of the ways we are evolving this is through intelligent advisory engines. At Santander CIB we have developed ‘Kairos’, an AI advisory engine which is designed to help our investment professionals understand our clients and markets more deeply, and make even smarter decisions.

From personalization to social values: what is shaking up investment banking?

April 2021

As millennials mature into management roles in investment banking and other traditional industries, we take a closer look at the characteristics that define their generation. Much has been said about them over the last few years – some good and some bad - but only one thing is certain: coming of age in a world undergoing profound economic disruption is no easy task.

These individuals – born between 1981 and 1996 – have a completely different set of behaviors and expectations in life than their parents. As one of the largest generations in history about to move into its prime spending years, millennials are in a position to redefine the economy and set the pace for how the banking industry will evolve.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from how millennials interact with the ‘retail’ experience is that personalization is key. But that’s not the only thing that defines millennials´ buying behavior. Here are some character traits which must be kept in mind when catering to this key demographic:

  • Technology is essential: Having grown up with the rise of smartphones and the internet, this is the first digital native generation.
  • Communication is key: Not just frequency and speed but the channel too. With social media as one of their preferred platforms, companies must stay cutting edge from a feature, functionality and interface perspective.
  • Values matter: this one is not just limited to millennials – nowadays, the vast majority of investors care for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) causes and try to tailor their investments to their values. They show greater integration of money and values by investing in sustainable and impactful businesses.
  • Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility: the speed of things has made this generation a lot more impatient which is why it’s even more important to be agile and flexible.

So what is Santander CIB doing to better serve these clients?

Personalization is expected across all sectors. We are committed to fulfilling our clients’ needs, surpassing their expectations and helping them to achieve their goals. That’s why, we continue to invest heavily in developing tailor-made solutions and in providing local expertise, fully integrated coverage and cross-border capabilities.

Santander Cash Nexus is an example of our ongoing commitment to deliver innovative digital banking products to our customers. This global payments solution provides access to local transactional services via a single point of entry. Users worldwide can benefit from a simplified payments process and greater visibility thanks to enhanced reports and more.

Terms like financial services and disruption are often coupled with one of the following technologies: artificial intelligence, analytics, machine learning or robotic process automation. At Santander CIB, we are looking into things like intelligent automation and other innovative technologies such as Blockchain to continue delivering our services at an even higher standard than before.

Indeed, when it comes to investment, regardless of the generation, people increasingly prefer to close the gap between personal and societal well-being. This is largely reflected in the way they live, the things they consume, how they work and their investment choices. Investors do not just want to earn a return from their investment but also want it to reflect their personal values and contribute to the social good.

We believe ESG initiatives and responsible banking standards are key drivers for the progress of society. That’s why, as part of our contribution to the Group’s Responsible Banking commitments, we aim to raise or facilitate the mobilization of 120 billion euros by 2025, and 220 billion euros by 2030 in green finance to help tackle climate change. 

Helping people and businesses prosper has always been our driver. With that in mind, the Group recently signed the ‘Green Recovery Alliance’ manifesto which calls for rebuilding our society around social and green principles once this crisis has passed.

With a predominantly millennial workforce, Human Resources is leveraging technology for strategic initiatives. These aim to help individuals identify their potential, learn continuously, upskill themselves and feel empowered to take control of their careers. Santander CIB will continue to bet on young talent by providing people with opportunities to develop a professional career in the Group’s wholesale banking area.

There is no such thing as a secret recipe but companies that can weave together technology, customization and relationships stand to benefit the most - and the longest - from this determined generation and those to come. 

Santander CIB launches dedicated Digital Solutions team

February 2021

Joao Simao will lead the new team as Global Head of Digital Solutions Group. 

The new unit will partner with global coverage and product teams, providing comprehensive support in the digital acceleration of customer’s business as well as developing value-added products and services, both in-house and in partnership with new entrants.

Madrid, 1st February 2020 - PRESS RELEASE


Santander Corporate & Investment Banking (Santander CIB) announced today the creation of a dedicated team to boost its offering in the area of Digital Solutions. This new global team, headed by Joao Simao, will collaborate closely with product teams across our platform to support our clients by providing strategic solutions as well as product and financing structures to help our clients in the digital acceleration of their business.

The new team will also develop value-added products and services, both in-house and in partnership with new entrants, in a moment where customer expectations and emerging technologies are accelerating the creation of new financial technology players.

Simao will lead the new team as Global Head of Digital Solutions, reporting to Darren Jones, Head SCIB UK and global head of Banking and Corporate Finance. This new team will elevate Santander’s strategic dialogue with clients in the area of technological and digital solutions, by developing innovative, sustainable and profitable digital capabilities and providing state of the art advisory services. It will produce also value-added products and services for clients, both in-house and in partnership with new entrants

Digital acceleration and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) are the defining trends for years to come. In 2020, Santander CIB successfully launched a dedicated ESG Solutions Team to help our clients in their transition towards a more sustainable business model. With the new Digital Solutions team, we are replicating the model to fully-leverage our internal expertise on the Digital arena. 

About Santander Corporate Investment Banking

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of the third quarter of 2020, Banco Santander had more than a trillion euros in total funds, 147 million customers, of which 22 million are loyal and 41 million are digital, 11,500 branches and 193,000 employees.

Santander Corporate & Investment Banking (Santander CIB) is Santander’s global division that supports corporate and institutional clients, offering tailored services and value-added wholesale products suited to their complexity and sophistication, as well as to responsible banking standards that contribute to the progress of society.

Digital transformation: the key to driving profitability and improving customer experience

August 2020

In the wake of covid-19, businesses and individuals alike have been further thrust into a digital society. To contend with the new normal, companies worldwide have placed an unprecedented focus on their digital offering to urgently meet the fast rising demand for services accessible anytime, anywhere.

In the corporate banking world alone, clients are increasingly relying on their financial institutions´ digital capabilities to conduct their day-to-day transactions and to service their more complex financial needs. The pandemic has proved that financial services providers, like Santander CIB, with robust technological abilities already in place, are well positioned to face this crisis whilst ensuring minimal disruptions to their clients.

Pre-covid-19

For many institutions in the corporate investment banking sector, the pandemic has accelerated the need to engage more deeply with their digital transformation agenda. However, even prior to covid-19, Santander CIB understood the importance of needing to implement technologically innovative processes to adapt to a changing and increasingly tech-savvy client base. Indeed, the digitally oriented client groups sought faster, streamlined, and more personalized experiences from their providers.

We identified that digital transformation was recognized as the key to driving profitability and simultaneously improving customer experience. In recent years, digital innovations such as machine learning, robotics, blockchain and cloud systems have completely altered the banking experience by providing, quicker, cost-effective and more efficient and secure banking solutions for clients and stakeholders worldwide.

It is now abundantly clear that institutions like Santander CIB - that were on the early wave of change and invested and explored new measures prior to covid-19 - are well positioned to provide their services to in an increasingly digitized corporate landscape.

Santander CIB Digital Transformation

Santander CIB recognizes that technological innovation results in mutually beneficial outcomes for both the business and its clients. Technology is one of the cornerstones on which Santander executes its strategic planning, capabilities for driving profitability, boosting customer experience and increasing customer loyalty.

In recent years, Santander CIB invested in a multi-year digital transformation. We changed our commercial model to offer greater availability and a more direct approach through digital channels, without losing our signature personal approach and services.

We used digital innovation to create an improved functional design that makes our services more comfortable to use. We have also made them more accessible, by stripping away architectural barriers and increasing the technology available, providing a more agile, personalized and customizable experience.

Another key aspect is the implementation of blockchain technology, which allows data and funds to be transferred in a completely secure manner thanks to sophisticated coding and encryption. Santander CIB is a pioneer in the use of this technology having launched the first bond with end-to-end blockchain technology. This is a first step towards a possible secondary market for tokenized securities in the future.

In addition to all of the above, Santander Group recently hired three leading technologists to help boost its strategy and digital transformation. Combined, all of these elements aim to provide our clients with an enhanced experience that caters to their needs, while allowing Santander CIB to become more competitive in the open market, deliver more cost effective services, and increase our returns.

As the digitized society continues to evolve, we are well positioned for what comes next, and we look forward to growing in tandem with our loyal clients.