Santander building UK digital bank for SMEs

Santander has moved a step closer to launching a standalone digital bank, by bringing its Openbank product to the UK.

The Openbank digital service already operates in Spain, where it had amassed more than 1.35 million accounts by the end of 2016, according to Spanish Banking Association figures.

A UK version is expected to be built over the next few months, focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a suite of different lending options and advice.

“As we announced at our Group Strategy Update in October last year, we are working on a project to build an open digital financial services platform for SMEs,” read a statement. “We are excited by opportunity to help more SMEs to prosper and we look forward to sharing more about the platform soon.”

That strategy update also detailed Santander’s four global innovation platforms, based on a startup model, which are led by independent chief executives and sponsored by country heads.

These are Super Digital – a digital account for the unbanked population in Latin America – Open Bank – a digital challenger bank initially serving the Spanish market acting as a blueprint for a new IT architecture – One Pay FX – a blockchain-based international money transfer service which recently launched for retail customers in the UK, Spain, Brazil and Poland, and an open digital financial services platform for SMEs.

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