Santander infrastructure revamp
Spanish bank holding company Grupo Santander has embarked on a
major revamp of its payments infrastructure. Bank subsidiaries’
payments systems will migrate from multiple mainframes to a single
group-wide IT infrastructure based on US software developer
Microsoft’s payments platform. The new infrastructure is due to go
live in 2008.
The tenth-largest banking group in the world by market
capitalisation, Grupo Santander has subsidiaries in 14 European
countries, eight South American countries and the US. Primarily
focused on retail banking, it has 68 million customers and operates
about 10,000 branches.
Having explored and evaluated various solutions, the bank chose
Microsoft technology after its architecture team ran a proof of
concept at Microsoft’s headquarters, explained Maite Agujetas,
chief architect at Grupo Santander. The test proved that the system
would be able to handle 62 million messages per day with processing
rates of 1,156 messages per second.
“The speed of the system and the potential cost savings that could
be achieved across the group as a result helped us come to our
decision,” he said. “We believe that this project will help us
easily adapt our current systems with minimal disruption to our
The initial implementation of the project will begin with Grupo
Santander’s larger banks – Spain-based Banco Santander and Banesto,
and UK-based Abbey National – followed by the smaller banks.
As part of a group payment infrastructure, Grupo Santander has
embarked on a number of new projects. These include:
• STP Manager, a system designed to handle all financial message
interchanges between the group and external institutions;
• Faster Payments, an initiative that will significantly increase
the speed of credit transfer from one account to another, enabling
internet and telephone banking users to benefit from near-real-time
payment processing; and
• SMS Text Messages Banking, which offers new services to mobile
The new payments platform forms part of Grupo Santander’s drive to
become ‘the world’s most efficient global bank’. The banking group
has a target of achieving a cost-income ratio of 40 percent by the
end of 2009 to meet this objective.
Confirming its ability to cut transaction processing costs,
Microsoft provided details of a recently completed Microsoft-based
bank-to-bank corporate customer payment solution for Italy’s Banca
Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS). Since implementation, MPS has
reduced payments times from a few days to near-real time and has
saved more than 50 percent on operating costs.